Dwight Lydell Park Renovation Summer 2020 Update
Work on the Dwight Lydell renovation is now scheduled to begin in late July or early August. The work was scheduled to begin this past Spring, but Brian Mulligan, Landscape Architect for Kent County Parks, said the contractor’s schedule changed and approval for one permit was delayed.
Except for the construction date, everything in the plan has remained the same since revisions to the original plan were made this past winter. At the heart of the project is restoring Mill Creek to its natural state. Originally the existing ponds were to be combined into one large pond, but it was determined that doing that would not leave enough room for a big enough floodplain and wetland area to address drainage and flooding issues, which is the main purpose of the project.
New playground equipment was not part of the original plan, but in March, the Comstock Park Downtown Development Authority voted to contribute $150,000 towards the construction of a new steel, clear-span bridge that will connect the park to the library and replace the existing bridge. That helped free up money in the project’s budget for other possible things such as playground equipment. The total cost of the project is more than $1.8 million. The County received more than a million dollars in grants from the Department of Natural Resources – a $900,000 DNR Non-Point Source Grant, and a $257,000 DNR Aquatic Habitat Grant. The County is providing matching funds. The work should take around four months. The Park will be closed during the renovation.
Another change to the original plan is that the existing ball park will be removed in order to accommodate the expanded floodplain and wetlands, but there will still be a flat grassy area there that could be used to play ball, said Mulligan. Part of the project includes building a boardwalk from the parking lot at the northwest end of the park that will extend across the new wetlands, floodplain, and Mill Creek and will connect with Lamoreaux Drive. People will be able to fish from the overlook above the Creek.
Also, the Parks Department made it a focus to keep walking paths at the Park, said Mulligan. The path on the Lamoreaux side of the Park will be moved toward the center of the park and will still loop with the path along the Leland Ave. side of the Park. New playground equipment will be installed closer to the path along Leland St. on higher ground. Around 250 trees will be planted in the park, as well as more than 650 shrub saplings to aid in the flood plain restoration, Mulligan said.
Restoring Mill Creek to its natural state includes removing the more than century-old crumbling concrete walls left over from the days of the State of Michigan fishponds. The Parks Department web site notes that, “In order to remove the walls and create the natural floodplain, the trees and soil behind the walls must be excavated to restore the Creek channel. Tree trunks, branches, and root wads that are removed will be used in the project to help protect the Creek bank once the walls are removed. KCPD will relocate as many trees as possible.” The Department’s web site says the project addresses wet, low areas and shaping the ground to improve flooding during spring rains and snow melts. Portions of the park and path may flood but should not remain flooded as the Creek will be more able to recede.
The first phase of the renovation of the Park was done in 2017. The parking lot was torn out and reconstructed, and it now provides parking for twice as many cars. A new maintenance building was built and the old building removed.
For more information about Kent County Parks and Dwight Lydell Park click HERE.To read more about the history of Dwight Lydell Park click HERE.