A nearly $3 million renovation of Clinch Park in downtown Traverse City is just weeks away from completion, with a targeted June 25 public ribbon cutting ceremony set to open the park.
The project is being funded by tax increment financing funds (TIF) from both the City and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), as well as local foundational support. Hallmark Construction, which helmed projects including Cherry Capital Airport, Traverse Area District Library and Grand Traverse County District Courthouse, is managing the park revitalization.
Phase 1 of the project, currently underway, calls for a complete upgrade of Clinch Park, including a new terraced lawn area with stone sitting walls, interactive playground equipment, new site furniture and lighting, a kayak launch, a rebuilt and relocated TART trail, a splash pad and an interactive outdoor water exhibit called the William G. Milliken Waterscape (see slideshow above).
Phase 2, executed concurrently with Phase 1, features the construction of a new park bathhouse featuring public restrooms, eight changing rooms and a concessions stand. Last month, Hallmark was also awarded a $448,250 contract for – and has since begun work on – the reconstruction of the south side of the Clinch Park pedestrian tunnel.
“The block and steel structure of the bathhouse is now complete, and we'll begin work on the wood siding next week,” says Jeff Fedorinchik, Hallmark president. “We're nearly complete with installing the stone terrace walls on the waterfront, and we've begun pouring new sidewalks throughout the park.”
The project is on budget, though the cold, wet spring weather has pushed back the construction schedule, with an original target of Memorial Weekend now stretching to June 14. Fedorinchik says construction crews have also encountered “numerous unforeseen objects in Clinch Park,” including concrete foundations of previously demolished buildings that had to be removed to make way for the new planned structures.
Despite those hiccups, city officials are confident the end result will be worth the wait. DDA Executive Director Bryan Crough says his organization has long “desired to see a better connection between downtown and the bayfront,” and that renovations, particularly in the pedestrian tunnel, will help unite a “lively, active downtown with a lively, active park.”
Crough also notes that recent plans announced by the Traverse City Film Festival to open a (temporary) movie theater in Clinch Park's Con Foster building could add further vibrancy to the park. On May 7, the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to consider zoning amendments to accommodate the festival at the venue.
Clinch Park is the first project tackled from the City's 2010 Bayfront Plan, a series of recommended improvements adopted by the Commission covering the shoreline between the Traverse City Senior Center and the intersection of Grandview Parkway (M-72) and M-22. Additional renovations – or phases – targeting other waterfront areas in this zone may soon follow Clinch.
According to City Planner Russ Soyring, local officials “intend to upgrade the boat launch on Boardman River near the mouth of the river" next year, and are “investigating possible grant dollars to study and design a public pier” on the river as well. Soyring also notes the City Engineering Department is seeking permits from the DEQ and Army Corp of Engineers to extend a bayfront trail to Elmwood Avenue ending in a small deck and ramp to the shoreline, as well as a new mid-block crossing to ease bayfront access from Slabtown neighborhood.
If approved, Soyring says, that project could move forward as soon as this year.
Click on the image at top to view a brief slideshow of construction progress and renderings of the final park.