Thursday, December 14, 2023

Council hears plan for Ford Field renovations

The vision for Ford Field park in Northville has been revealed in a 35-page master plan developed by consulting firm Wade Trim. The plan defines the way the east and west sides of the park, separated by Griswold, would be linked amid improvements to each side. 

The plan includes the expansion of a pathway that currently borders the west side to connect to the east side which would enable people to traverse the parks and emerge from either side to other areas of the city. Proposed new signage and a trail map that defines the connecting pathways would help unify the two parks, the consultants noted. In addition, a more visible pedestrian/bicycle crossing across Griswold, just north of Main Street, would provide enhanced safety for people going between the two sections of Ford Field. This goal of connectivity could take several years to achieve, the study noted.

Currently Ford Field park west is the larger, more visited space where Fort Griswold is located along with the baseball field and the walking/biking pathway that circles the park. The north end of the path leads to Robert's Rock and Serenity Point, which has benches amid trees and plants and offers a view of the intersection of the Randolph Drain and the Middle Rouge River. The less visited east side continues the flow of the Middle Rouge River and is heavily wooded on the north side. It is, however, obscure - tucked behind the Water Wheel Office Centre and under an overpass - largely unseen from Griswold and S. Main, according to the study. 

The master plan recommends enhancing the wooded section by adding trails as well as a 12-foot wide bridge and connected pathway that leads to S. Main. The non-motorized plan adopted by members of the city council recommended better connections from S. Main Street to the southeast portion of the city and to the Hines Park gateway at Seven Mile Road. 

The first step toward transforming the park has already begun. A new west-side, ADA-compliant entrance will be constructed off Hutton. A contract with engineering firm OHM Advisors provided for three designs for the new entrance and plaza. They were presented to the public, members of the Planning Commission, the Historic District Commission, the River Restoration Task Force, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and city council. The consensus was to build a welcome plaza at the Hutton curve with an accessible walkway along Hutton to the existing park access in Serenity Point, approximately 750 feet. The refined design will be presented at the Dec. 18 meeting of the council by OHM and Wendy Wilmers-Longpre, director of Strategic Planning and Special Projects.  

The west entrance improvements are being funded by a $910,000 grant secured through State Rep. Matt Koleszar's office as an appropriation from the Michigan Enhancement Grant program of 2022. It will be applied to the design and construction of the new west entrance and to help stabilize the embankment, which is 30-feet at the highest point. 

Another grant will fund improvements to Serenity Point. This project is one of the community projects identified by Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Haley Stevens to be funded in the Federal Omnibus Bill passed in December 2022. The funds are being administered through the EPA State and Tribal Assistance (STAG) program for water quality protection.

The Master Plan calls for repairs of the Randolph Drain at Serenity Point to deter ongoing erosion of the outfall, stabilize the river embankment, and shore up the 4-foot head wall that abuts Hutton Street. Consultant Wade Trim notes the repairs “will reduce sediments coming from the outfall discharging into the Rouge River and improve the water quality of not only the Rouge tributary but also the Great Lakes.”