Red Mill park plan still on the table

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Plans for a small public park that would allow access to Red Mill Pond are moving forward said Lenawee County Drain Commissioner Stephen May.

“We’re still hoping it happens,” May said. “It would be great for the city and residents to have a park on Red Mill Pond.”

A preliminary design was sent to the developers and property owners on July 1, according to May, after a design was agreed upon. That design could be included in the site’s master plan.

The current owner of the land, K-West Group, was awarded the property after it went into foreclosure. K-West Group did infrastructure work for the Red Mill Pond Development before its foreclosure.

May said that they hope developing access to Red Mill Pond would bring the added benefit of applying for, and receiving, grants. The Lenawee County Drain Commission is looking for grants to help cover the estimated $315,000 in repairs and maintenance of the Red Mill Pond dam, which could be aided by having public access available. A public access park could allow grants to be won more easily, according to May.

The state has a grant program with approximately $350,000 available. The commission has applied for $100,000. A fish passage grant has also been applied for in the amount of another $100,000. Both grants are still under consideration.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) real estate division is working on the Blue Water Trails system, which provides shoreline access for fishing, canoeing and kayaking along bodies of water.

Approximately two acres of land behind the Masonic building, located on Bishop Reed Drive, has been identified by May and DNR officials that could provide some access to Red Mill Pond. The proposed public access location has been identified as having the best slope to the water.

May said that he should know within a month if the park design has been incorporated into the property’s master plan.

The Lenawee County Drain Commission is waiting on the last permit, for dam safety, needed to begin the Red Mill Pond dam repairs. They can begin dam repairs beginning October 1, 2014 when the permit allows them to drawdown the dam. The drawdown permit is good for a five-year period.

The commission will begin formulating a repair schedule and bidding out the project in early fall of 2014, once the last permit is received. Repairs are not expected to begin until late fall or early winter of this year. No timeline has been set for when repairs would be finished.

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