New bathrooms, fishing pier: $16M in improvements coming to 10 Michigan state parks

Fika Estella

LANSING, MI — Brick repairs on a historic lighthouse, a new universally accessible fishing pier, and renovations at one of the nation’s oldest glass houses are among the improvements coming soon to state parks across Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources this week announced that $15.9 million has been allocated for the first phase of addressing a long list of critical, “shovel ready” projects at 10 Michigan state parks.

The funding comes from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan, a $4.8 billion infrastructure package signed in March that included $250 million to address a backlog of repair and maintenance needs at state parks and to build a new state park in Flint.

Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said the first batch of projects is out for design and bid, and the DNR expects to announce selected Phase 2 projects in the coming months.

“Michigan’s state parks and recreation system has experienced a 30% increase in visitation over the past two years, while at the same time dealing with more than 20 years’ worth of critical infrastructure needs,” Olson said. “There’s no question this is a historic investment.”

The first round of projects includes the following:

Bay City State Park (Bay County): $1.5 million to renovate the interior and exterior of the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center, including the addition of a new science lab. General improvements include enhancements to make the park more accessible for all visitors.

Cheboygan State Park (Cheboygan County): $750,000 to construct upgraded electrical and water distribution systems in the modern campground. An additional $2 million is proposed in later phases for additional investments in the sewer system.

Fayette Historic State Park (Delta County): $600,000 to reconstruct the south wall of the west casting house in the park’s historic townsite, where visitors can take a walking tour of 20 original structures from the late-1800s iron smelting industrial community. This is the first phase of a historic preservation project in the park.

Fayette Historic State Park (Delta County): $400,000 to reconstruct approximately 300 feet of retaining wall adjacent to the historic charcoal kilns in the park’s historic townsite. This is the second phase of a historic preservation project in the park.

Tawas Point State Park (Iosco County): $455,500 to repair water-damaged brick on the historic Tawas Point Lighthouse. The work will be completed by professionals specializing in historic architecture for maritime buildings.

Straits State Park (Mackinac County): $2 million to replace the two upper campground toilet and shower buildings, which will mirror finish details from newly constructed buildings in the park’s lower campground.

Sterling State Park’s Heritage Trail (Monroe County): $425,000 to stabilize the riverbank in preparation for trail resurfacing. This is the first phase of an improvement project that will leverage federal funding to improve the slowly eroding embankment between the river and marsh lagoon. An additional $3.57 million is proposed in later phases for further investments in erosion control.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon County): $1.4 million to renovate and preserve the Kaug Wudjoo modern lodge, staff quarters, mechanic’s shop, carpenter’s shop and fire barn. Utility and structural upgrades also are included in ongoing historic preservation efforts.

New state-county park in Saginaw (Saginaw County): $867,000 to construct parking areas and a park entrance for a new state park already in development on the old General Motors site and nearby landfill, a reclaimed brownfield site on the Saginaw River. The park will be jointly managed by the DNR and Saginaw County.

Waterloo Recreation Area (Washtenaw County): $65,000 to install a new fishing pier with more universally accessible features at Portage Lake in the Portage Lake Campground. The project will match a federal grant and state funds.

Belle Isle Park (Wayne County): $7.5 million to remove lead paint and replace both the glass and upper steel structural members that support the upper dome of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. This project is the second phase of a comprehensive plan to revitalize one of the nation’s oldest turn-of-the-century glass houses still in existence.

More information is at Michigan.gov/StateParksProgress.

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https://www.mlive.com/news/2022/06/new-bathrooms-fishing-pier-16m-in-improvements-coming-to-10-michigan-state-parks.html

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