Here are planned improvements coming to three Huron-Clinton Metroparks

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Improvements to three Metroparks could be underway in 2024, if they are granted funding, and communities get to weigh in with forums that began Thursday, planners say.

The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is seeking public input on proposed improvements for Delhi Metropark, located five miles outside of Ann Arbor; Lake St. Clair Metropark, located in Harrison Township in Macomb County; and Stony Creek Metropark, which extends across Oakland and Macomb counties.

Coordinators would seek funding for the projects from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Grants program. Submissions are due April 1. 

An ice sledder out on the frozen lake in Sterling Heights at Stony Creek Metro Park  on Feb. 12. The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is seeking public input on three projects that will be submitted to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Grants program.

Public input will help guide the final design of proposed park improvements, said Jay Bibby, interim chief of planning and development for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks.

Last year, the three Metroparks saw more than 1.25 million vehicles through its gates.

The 13 Metropark visitors generate $92.4 million annually in direct spending, according to a study by the Trust for Public Land.

River walks and improving land trails are always at the top of public surveys, Bibby said, adding the focus for the improvements is increasing accessibility to meet the American Disability Act standards at all three.

"Lake St. Clair West Boardwalk has been identified in our plans of needing repairs and improvements for accessibility. Everything needs to be ADA compliant but we go beyond the standards, using universal design principles to create that recreation opportunity for everyone to enjoy," Bibby said. "Same at Delhi's kayak launch site and Stony Creek's reflection trail — both had needed improvements for accessibility."

Specifically, at Delhi, the proposed project would renovate areas along the Huron River, adding a new floating dock system. It would expand the sandy launch/take-out area for kayaking. It also would add toilets, three picnic tables, two dog waste stations, relocate the water spigot, replace the concrete walkway to the river and improve the eastside parking lot.

At Lake St. Clair, planners hope to improve the accessibility along the West Boardwalk area by adding paved walkways to connect picnic areas, add picnic tables and grills to the existing shelter, remove stairs and concrete ramps that don't meet ADA standards and add a recreational mat over the sand and into the water to allow for greater accessibly at the beach. Plans are to relocate trash cans and pet waste stations.

For Stony Creek, improving accessibility to the Reflection Nature Trail and replacing three bridges are at the top of the improvement list. Stony Creek extends 4,435 acres across Oakland and Macomb counties.

Improvements also include replacing the existing dock with a shoreline viewing platform, accessible push-button doors at the Nature Center main entrance, relocate benches, make the prairie development accessible and modify the existing trail for accessible slopes and cross slopes.

Improvements have not likely been made since the parks' inceptions, Bibby said.

"The Boardwalk is iconic and a landmark since Lake St. Clair was Metro Beach, and has been there since the 1950s. Stony Creek opened in 1964, so those facilities' lifespan is due for upgrades. Delhi has been part of our system since 1967 and these are now improvements that would make it more accessible for everyone," Bibby said.

Sharry Bronson, 49, is a long-distance runner who has been going to Stony Creek since the mid-90s. In the last few years, she runs through the park at least once a week.

"I stick mainly to the paved path and seems like there already have been improvements recently to those paths and the mountain biking paths," said Bronson of Madison Heights. "They're doing what they can and it seems like there's something new every summer, and it makes the park more enjoyable for people like me."

Residents can review the proposed projects and plans on the Metroparks website and give feedback in an online survey open until Feb. 28.

A viewing platform is seen at Stony Creek Metro Park's boat launch in Sterling Heights on Feb. 12.

At the first public meeting on Thursday, 12 people attended and Bibby said there was excitement for the boardwalk site furnishings. People questioned cable wire railings and recommended galvanized steel, which will not need to be repainted.

There is also a virtual public hearing at 1 p.m. on March 10, prior to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority Board of Commissioners meeting.

The project improvements are near $1 million for each metropark and if granted the highest award $500,000 for each, the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is obligated to match 50%.

Should the grants be awarded by December, it would take a year to enter a project agreement and work would begin being built by fall 2024.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_