Dwight Lydell Park Renovation Summer 2020 Update
Plans for the renovation of Dwight Lydell Park in downtown Comstock Park continue to evolve and now include some funding from the Comstock Park Downtown Development Authority. Brian Mulligan, landscape architect for Kent County Parks, said a big change to the original plan is the removal of the existing ponds. Originally the 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.
As part of the project, 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 will help 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. Work will begin this Spring and should take four months. The Park will be closed during the renovation, and will reopen in the Fall when the work is complete.
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.
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 over 650 shrub saplings to aid in the flood plain restoration, Mulligan said.
At the heart of the project is restoring Mill Creek to its natural state. That means removing the more than century-old crumbling concrete walls left over from the days of the State of Michigan fish ponds. 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.