Big Changes to Dwight Lydell Park in 2020
Big changes are coming to Dwight Lydell Park in 2020. The 39-acre park at 4040 Leland Avenue in downtown Comstock Park is being completely renovated. At the heart of the makeover is restoring Mill Creek to a more natural state by removing the 100-plus-year old concrete walls that are in disrepair and falling into the water. Grading will be done along the banks on the “Park side” of the Creek to create a flood plain and wetlands. Brian Mulligan, Planning and Development Manager for Kent County Parks Department, said that with the concrete walls gone and the grading creating a flood plain of 30-50 feet, the creek will flow more slowly during flood events. This will improve the habitat along the creek and in the water, as well as aesthetics, he said.
Bids will go out in January. The Park will be closed for much of the construction in the summer.
The total cost of the project is $1.5 million. The County received more than a million dollars in grants from the Department of Natural Resources – an $800,000 DNR Non-Point Source Grant, and a $250,000 DNR Aquatic Habitat Grant. The County will pay the rest.
The path on the “Park side” of the Creek will be moved toward the center of the Park, said Mulligan, and the path on the “Lamoreaux Avenue side” will be removed. No grading will be done on the Lamoreaux side. The graded area will be planted in a natural state to stabilize the side slopes of the Creek, he said, adding that some trees along the banks now will have to be removed. The bridge at the Library will be replaced, but the bridge further upstream will be removed. Areas of the Park that flood now will be raised.
The existing ponds will be altered and made into one pond. A boardwalk will be built from the parking lot at the northwest end of the Park and will extend across the new pond and wetlands, and the Creek. It will connect with Lamoreaux Drive just north of the Comstock Park Congregational United Church of Christ parking lot. The retaining walls along the creek where it runs by the railroad tracks will be removed and the ground sloped. An overlook will be built at the southeast end of the new pond.
The existing playground equipment and shelter will be moved closer to the path along Leland St. There are no plans for any new playground equipment at this time.
The first phase of the renovation of Dwight Lydell Park was done in 2017. The parking lot was torn out and reconstructed creating parking for twice as many cars. A new maintenance building was built and the old building removed.
The concrete walls along Mill Creek were built mostly around the turn of the twentieth century to facilitate water management for the fish hatchery that was located in the park. At its peak, the fish hatchery covered the entire Park. The State selected the Park as the site for a fish hatchery in 1896 and closed it in 1946 citing lack of demand and disrepair of the facility. The State then donated the land to Kent County to be used as a park. The Park was named after Dwight Lydell who the State hired to develop and manage the hatchery. Before the fish hatchery, the Park was the site of a tannery, grist mills, and saw mills at various times in the mid and late 1800’s.
For more information about Kent County Parks and the construction at Dwight Lydell Park click HERE.