Posts Tagged ‘William Milliken State Park’

Governor Rick Snyder: Bikes the talk in Detroit

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

At yesterday’s groundbreaking, George Jackson of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation spoke of his appreciation for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. “He walks the talk.” Jackson said.

This day would be different.

As the governor noted later, today he would bike the talk — on the Dequindre Cut from Milliken State Park to Eastern Market — on a bike rented from the Wheelhouse Detroit.

I had the opportunity to give a Detroit Greenways button to the Governor, which he prompted pin to his jacket. We also discussed the Dequindre Cut and biking in Detroit. He asked if there were other places to ride in the city and if there was a bike map. I noted that we’re working on some maps now and that Detroit is among the nation’s most bike friendly due to the overbuilt road network.

I also spoke with him about the New International Trade Crossing. I asked if he would work with us to make sure the constructed bridge includes the paved shoulders (for bicyclists) and sidewalk that are in the approved current design — and encourage the Canadians to do the same. He sounded quite positive and asked me to contact his office with the details.

Milliken Park expansion

Governor Snyder was in Detroit for the groundbreaking of the Globe Trading Building. This historic structure will become the DNR’s Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center.

“The Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center project is an exciting next step in fulfilling a vision for Detroit’s Riverfront and serves as a shining example of what city and state, public and private partnerships and collaboration can achieve,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “This is what place making is all about. And the project will help generate additional economic development and neighborhood revitalization that are core to Detroit’s and Michigan’s comeback.”

“The goal of everyone involved in this venture is to create a downtown destination where people living in or visiting an urban area can experience the adventure and excitement of Michigan’s great outdoors, gain confidence in participating in outdoor recreation activities, and understand more about protecting our state’s unique natural resources,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “We feel the Globe Building project provides the right hub for outdoor experiences and fits that niche perfectly.”

This is going to be a tremendous asset at the intersection of two great greenways: the Dequindre Cut and Detroit RiverWalk.

During the 2011 RiverDays event, someone asked me when the city was going to tear down that old brick building. I promptly responded and told him about the DNR’s plans to revitalize it. They didn’t believe me. I recalled that transaction as the Governor spoke yesterday.

From the Detroit News:

“I want everyone to remember what that looks like today,” said Snyder during a press conference at Milliken State Park, gesturing across the street to the abandoned warehouse. “So when we come back and see what it looks like, we can see what the power of working together can do and the opportunity to reinvent Michigan and the opportunity to reinvent Detroit.”

The Free Press also published this article on the event and building.

Comments sought on Milliken State Park plans

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

If you were at RiverDays, you might have seen the below graphic. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) It’s a conceptual plan for expanding Milliken State Park and the Detroit RiverWalk.

What do you think about this vision? The Michigan DNR is asking that you send you email your comments.

A copy of the original PDF is available.

We got a TIGER for the trail!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

After getting rejected for funding in the TIGER III, the city of Detroit and collaborators tweaked the grant proposal and re-submitted for TIGER IV.

We didn’t get the $15.3 million we asked for, but we did get $10 million.

What does this fund? The proposal centers around Eastern Market by improving streetscapes and bridges, while making three non-motorized connections via a Dequindre Cut extension, another segment of the Midtown Loop, and bike lanes to the proposed Hamtramck Trails network.

There’s more coverage on the MTGA web site and in articles by Crain’s Detroit Business and mLIVE.

Globe Trading Building

While these greenway connections improve access to Eastern Market, they also improve access for bicyclists and pedestrians heading to the Detroit RiverWalk and Milliken State Park. As for the latter, last month the DNR announced their $12.8 million investment in an Outdoor Discovery Adventure Center in the park and along the Dequindre Cut.

This Free Press article makes it sound like quite the trail-side attraction.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said this morning it anticipates as many as a million visitors a year coming to its planned discovery center to be built in the historic Globe Building on Detroit?s east riverfront.

Features will include a 60-foot climbing wall, an archery range, simulator rides demonstrating kayaking and other water sports, and classrooms to teach schoolchildren and other visitors outdoor safety as well as the science of natural resources and wetlands.

And yes, a young Henry Ford was an apprentice in this building while working on ship engines.

Given the current state of the Globe Trading Building, it’s difficult imagining that it will be open next year, but that is the timeline.

The DNR also expects a million visitors a year.

A cycling perspective on the Detroit Consent Agreement

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

With a 5-4 City Council vote, it appears the City has at least temporarily kept Governor Rick Snyder from appointing an emergency finance manager.

That vote was for a “historic” consent agreement, according to the Detroit Free Press:

In the historic consent agreement between the city and state over the management of Detroit, the city agreed to give up — at least temporarily — a good deal of sovereignty over its financial affairs.

So aside from the hope of future solvency, what does Detroit get in return?

A modest amount of increased state spending — and an array of promises.

The 53-page agreement does keep City Council in charge of policy, which is a positive for our Complete Streets efforts. Detroit’s road money is separate from the general budget. We’ve argued that our Complete Streets ordinance wouldn’t add to the city deficit. It just divides up the road funding pie in a slightly different way.

The agreement also contains some state promises which affect Detroit cyclists to varying degrees.

The Positives

The state vows to:

  • Improve public lighting by working with the city to create a separate authority to manage and finance streetlights.” Working street lights can reduce crashes.
  • “Move ahead with the New International Trade Crossing project.” The bridge plans do include a bicycle pathway.
  • “Invest in a regional, multi-modal system including BRT, bike paths and walkability.” We’re not sure if this means more state investment or just continued funding.
  • “Assist the market in applying for a federal TIGER grant to create a seamless trail system from the Riverfront through the Eastern Market, Brush Park, and Wayne State University areas.” It’s a little late. Detroit already applied.
  • Riverfront – Develop the Globe Building, expand Milliken State Park, dedicate a new launch for citizens near Riverfront Park and assist DEGC with resources and talent to transform Hart Plaza.” The latter likely refers to an expansion of Hart Plaza over land that was previously used for the Ford Auditorium.
  • Belle Isle – Create park funding for Belle Isle while ensuring continued City ownership by designating Belle Isle as a part of a cooperative relationship with Milliken State Park. This would include a long-term lease that would accrue the cost of the park’s maintenance and improvements out of the Park Endowment Fund. We will partner with Belle Isle Conservancy and the City to implement a master plan for the Island.”

The Belle Isle item is among the more interesting. Unfortunately the Free Press already got it wrong with an article titled, “Belle Isle likely won’t be free anymore.

If the island is managed like other Michigan State Parks, there will only be an annual $10 fee for arriving by motor vehicle. One can walk or bike into state parks for free and the same would likely be true with Belle Isle.

While some cheer that this small fee will keep out the less desirable elements, those elements won’t disappear. They’ll find another location, just like they do now when the island closes at 10pm. A fee is not a total solution.

The Big Negative

It can’t all be positive for Detroit cyclists, right? The state vows to:

  • “Accelerate a capacity improvement project for I-94 from I-96 to Conner Avenue, supporting more than 13,000 jobs between 2012 and 2020.”

This outdated, mostly unnecessary MDOT project will wipe out 9 bridges over the expressways, including some pedestrian bridges, Third Street, and John R. It effectively widens the I-94 scar through the community.

The Governor needs to get involved in this project since the cost/benefit numbers just don’t add up. It’s “benefit” is from a 1980′s frame of reference that put a priority on reducing rush hour congestion irregardless of the effects on the local community.

Fortunately some local activists are started to pull together some project opposition.

Detroit 2020 looks at RiverWalk developments

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

The Detroit 2020 takes a look at the RiverWalk and proposed development along the river, including the exciting Milliken State Park Discovery Center in the Globe Trading Building.

The RiverWalk goes through the Milliken State Park, which is Michigan’s only urban state park. Just across the street from the park and right next to the Dequindire Cut is the historic Globe Trading Company Building — where Henry Ford once worked as an apprentice. It will the become the Milliken State Park Adventure and Discovery Center, complete with an archery range, rock climbing, and outdoor activities. “The building is about 100-thousand square feet — we will be taking about 50-thousand square feet turning it into the discovery center — we’re looking for partners to come in and work with us on developing the other side,” said Rodney Stokes, Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

DNR leader Rodney Stokes is no stranger to Detroit. After he first retired from the state, he served as deputy parks director in Detroit.

As for the other possible occupants of the Globe Trading Building, they might be green — and a wonderful, exciting fit.

Interestingly enough, if it weren’t for the unsuccessful pursuit of putting casinos on the riverfront, we may not have a RiverWalk or a Dequindre Cut. The city purchased the latter property in hopes of creating an access road to the casinos. That said, losing places like the Woodbridge Tavern and Soup Kitchen was a steep price to pay.

Progress is apparently underway on the contaminated Uniroyal site, a project being led by the DEGC. There are a number of workers and construction equipment on site. This is one of the key missing pieces between the existing RiverWalk, Belle Isle, and the Gabriel Richard Park and plaza.

Here’s the Detroit 2020 video: