EJ walking, park plans

ej park
The City of East Jordan DDA is utilizing its Downtown Development Coordinator to secure funding to create a pedestrian crossing and linear pocket park connecting the east and west sides of town.

The City of East Jordan Downtown Development Authority (DDA) entered into a contract with Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) in 2016 to create a part-time DDA Coordinator position to help their community move projects forward.

Both the City and the NLEA saw the benefits to the economic vitality of the community that could be obtained by having this dedicated position moving projects forward.

As a result, the DDA is entering into their largest project since 1995 with their “Joining Jordan” infrastructure project.

In late 2017 the DDA began a sub-planning process to assess needs, and create a consolidated Waterfront Sub-area Plan within the DDA district.

The planning process included significant public input and work sessions which fleshed out a high priority to “Join Jordan,” as in the east and west sides of town.

The DDA set a priority to improve pedestrian and multi-modal connections from the east side of town to increasing development on the west side of town. The focus came down to the bridge over the Jordan River on M-32.

At the same time, plans were moving forward to use DNR Waterways funding relocate and decommission the existing city boat launch on the west side of Lake Charlevoix opening up the site for redevelopment.

Taking advantage of these changes, the DDA saw an opportunity to create a public waterfront pocket park to anchor the west side of Lake Charlevoix and the Jordan River, while also marketing the site as a priority redevelopment site with the Redevelopment Ready Communities program.

The scope of work involves three main pieces; public waterfront pocket park and boardwalk, M-32 bridge corridor improvements, and a pedestrian bridge, pavilions, and boardwalk linear park.

The waterfront pocket park will serve as an anchor on the west side of Lake Charlevoix and the mouth of the Jordan River.

Establishing the park now will allow the city to proactively shape potential development space for this prime piece of waterfront property, while still maintaining public access and sightlines.

Updates to the M-32 bridge corridor will create safer shared-use options for crossing the Jordan River factoring in vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and snowmobiles.

The city and DDA have met with MDOT to discuss the potential viability of the project and have received favorable responses.

The largest piece of the puzzle is the pedestrian bridge featuring pavilions and a fishing deck that will connect the main pier of the City Marina on the east side of Lake Charlevoix to the new pocket park on the west side.

This pedestrian connection will allow easy passage from the central business district of downtown to new development opportunities.

By connecting directly to the marina, we will create easy access for boaters as well as a more direct connection through Memorial Park to downtown businesses.

This project will be a large infrastructure undertaking for East Jordan that will have a huge impact on the character and function of the city.

The DDA and their partnership with NLEA will lead the charge, focusing on the economic impact possible from increasing the connectivity from the east and west sides of town.

With the plan in place, the DDA was able to pursue funding through the MEDC–seeking CDBG Infrastructure dollars–with hopes of beginning actual construction as early as 2020.

This plan meets goals set forth in both the City of East Jordan Master Plan (2015), and the City of East Jordan Parks and Recreation Master Plan (2018), and establishes cues for future development designs set forth by the City of East Jordan Waterfront Subarea Plan Design Guidelines.

The Sub-area planning also included designs for a downtown streetscape refresh as well as improvements to Sportsman’s Park.

The city plans to move forward with both of these pieces as well through the DDA and the Parks Department, utilizing USDA low-interest loans and MDNR Trust Fund Grants.

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