Mill Pond Park in Brighton could be included in the streetscape redesign

Brighton city officials are planning to redevelop part of Mill Pond Park in the heart of the city centre.

Designs are still underway, but preliminary plans include changes to the section of the park that borders Main Street between Brighton Coffeehouse and Theater and the CoBach Center.

If approved by city officials, improvements to this part of Mill Pond will occur next year in conjunction with a city center-wide streetscape project supported by the Brighton Downtown Development Authority. The estimated $6 million streetscape project would include replacing and widening sidewalks, narrowing and rehabilitating roads, as well as new crosswalks, curbs, lighting, signs and plantings on Main Street between East and First Streets and on Grand River Avenue between St. Paul and North Streets. It would also involve the replacement of underground water pipes and utilities.

“Our overall goal is to revitalize our downtown to be welcoming and accessible to all, and with Mill Pond Park there are several design features that support the goal,” the deputy city manager said. , Henry Outlaw.

Outlaw said goals include improving Mill Pond as a gathering place, making it more easily accessible and ADA-compliant, and improving the shoreline to reduce flooding and deter geese and ducks from leaving droppings on the shore.

Preliminary design plans include a new parking spot with a fire pit and seating, a picnic area, new benches and different landscaping.

It would also involve removing the old stairs and installing an ADA accessible ramp to a new pathway connecting Main Street to Mill Pond.

Outlaw said the fire pit would be a permanent gas-powered device that could operate year-round. It provides for a variety of seating options, including benches made from natural materials such as stone and planters.

“We’re thrilled to have a place where people can congregate, especially in the winter,” Outlaw said. “They can have a drink in the social district and take it there. The shift to more outdoor dining and recreation and venue building has been a trend for some time, and I think COVID has definitely accelerated this trend. We want to be competitive with our peers, other communities, like Northville or Plymouth, and we want to be as attractive as possible to visitors and businesses looking to locate here.”

Outlaw said improvements to Mill Pond will also address flooding issues.

“That would involve removing the dam and replacing it with a new spillway,” he said. Currently there is a manual process. To control the flow of the stream, they have to go underwater and remove the barriers. It can be dangerous. The new weir will provide a controllable gate from the bank and will control the water level more easily and efficiently.”

The shore is currently concreted and the water flows when the water level is high.

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Instead, the edge would have a natural barrier such as grass, plants, and rocks. He would be reclassified higher.

“That’s subject to change, but it could basically be a system of gabions (metal cages filled with rocks or other material), it would have a defined edge and wouldn’t go in water.”

He said a natural edge could be designed to prevent waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, from dropping everywhere.

“The natural edge can be designed to create a barrier that waterfowl will perceive as dangerous and avoid.”

He said all of the improvements to Mill Pond could cost the Downtown Development Authority around $1 million. Grants could also help pay for some of it.

Brighton City Council voted to submit a grant application to the Land and Water Conservation Fund seeking funds that would cover half of the estimated $224,715 it would take to improve the park’s features. The Brighton Downtown Development Authority voted earlier this month to commit to the other half of the cost.

Debbe Barker, a resident of Brighton Township, said she was worried about security issues.

“They could improve the sidewalks because they’re pretty bad. For older people, I’m afraid it’s a tripping hazard,” Barker said.

She said she also gets nervous when children walk near the edge when it’s flooded.

Lisa Plascencia lived in Brighton before moving to Okemos.

“It needs to change. It needs to be updated. I think they can make it more community and family friendly,” Plascencia said.

She said city and DDA officials should consider a railing for safety.

City officials are expected to discuss and vote to approve the entire streetscape project at an upcoming meeting, but no date has been set for Thursday.

Several city officials attended an information meeting for city center business owners at the Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

Although the details of the proposed improvements to Mill Pond were only briefly discussed, several downtown business owners asked questions and shared concerns about the larger streetscape project.

If approved by municipal authorities, construction of the new water pipe could begin in January. Mill Pond improvements and road and sidewalk work would follow in phases and last until November.

Brighton Coffeehouse and Theater owner Amy Goller has expressed concern about the impact the construction and related closures will have on businesses in the town centre.

“Can we postpone this for a bit to give businesses more time to recover?” Goller said.

She said that while the new streetscape “is going to be great”, the timing is not good as businesses are still recovering from the pandemic.

Steve Pilon of El Arbol Taqueria said the city should go ahead with the streetscape project.

“If this project doesn’t happen, will it ever happen?” said Pilon. “Is it going to suck for us, yes, but it would be a missed opportunity.”

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.