A new park is coming to Saginaw’s Riverfront.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has finished buying 334 acres along the Saginaw River, in the City of Saginaw, from RACER Trust.
“This 334-acre acquisition along the confluence of the Tittabwassee and Shiawassee Rivers, forming the Saginaw River, is a critical piece of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Restoring the site’s natural features and forever protecting it has been a worthwhile process,” said Brian Keenan-Lechel, Director of Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. “One planned component of the development phase will be an interpretive timeline of the property, detailing its rich history. Saginaw County Parks is excited to work collaboratively with the MDNR and the community on the development phase and looks forward to welcoming patrons onto this scenic property.”
This paves the way for a waterfront park that will include places for hiking, fishing, wildlife watching, and other types of recreation.
“We’re going to have beautiful hiking trails, scenic overlooks, wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing access along the Saginaw River, those types of things,” Keenan-Lechel said.
The properties were owned and operated by the former General Motors Corp. before RACER Trust took ownership in 2011 as a result of the GM bankruptcy. They include the former Saginaw Malleable Iron Plant property — which made iron castings — a closed landfill and a small parcel that is adjacent to the former Delphi Saginaw Steering Gear Plant 2.
“It has rich history and that’s something through the development phase that we plan to celebrate. It is an interpretive timeline of the property showing it’s various uses and now coming back to natural use,” Keenan-Lechel said.
Trails within the park will link to the Iron Belle Trail, which runs from Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula, to Belle Isle in Detroit. Also, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, and surrounding public land and nearby neighborhoods.
Future phases of park development may include restoration of prairie grasslands and habitat, additional wildlife observation platforms and trail connections to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge and the Green Point Environmental Learning Center. Public input will be sought on any possible future development.
Two Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund grants, totaling $590,000, will help provide funding for park development. An endowment will also be established for maintenance.
A community celebration and groundbreaking for the Saginaw riverfront park will be held during the spring of 2020.
“We’ll get essentially bid ready and scope of the project ready over the winter, which will include community input. And then hopefully we’ll be celebrating a groundbreaking in those development phases beginning in spring of 2020. Hopefully by this time next year we’ll be open and have the public back on the property,” Keenan-Lechel said.