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Citywide News

Posted on: August 3, 2017

WCCCD check to fund waterwheel improvements

coan lake aerial


Wayne County Community College District Downriver Campus President Anthony Arminiak presented Mayor Rick Sollars with a check for over $50,000 yesterday, with the funds aimed at modernizing and lighting the waterwheel located at Coan Lake in Heritage Park.

WCCCD Chancellor Curtis Ivery approved use of the grant money to provide electrical power and lights the waterwheel. The waterwheel, located at what is now known as the Ecology Center, has been inactive for several years.

“This is just another sign of the tremendous partnership that we have with Wayne County Community College and people like Tony Arminiak and Chancellor Ivery,” Mayor Sollars said. “The City of Taylor and WCCCD are creating a true ‘Cultural Corridor’ in our community, which will benefit our residents for decades to come. This grant focusing on the waterwheel is yet another part of that ongoing process.”

Fairfax Electric will handle the project, which involves running electrical power to the waterwheel, adding a motor and creating decorative lighting along the lines of what you might see on a Ferris wheel. The project is scheduled to begin in September.

Problems with the waterwheel

Previously, the waterwheel was self-propelled. However, due to the weigh of the water held within its “buckets,” that eventually became a problem. The wheel’s speed would often increase to a dangerous speed with water jetting out the back of the system, and across the walking path.

The powered, lighted waterwheel will be more than just a decorative feature around Coan Lake. The lake has no natural feeder, so oxygenation to the eco-system becomes a key issue. An active waterwheel, along with multiple fountains, helps aerate the water and support the fish and plant life. The water in Coan Lake has improved markedly over the past three years, to the point where tests have indicated that is “swimmable” (although swimming is prohibited). The fish population has been stocked on an annual basis and plant life has flourished.

The City and various volunteer groups have helped keep Coan Lake clean. The reeds growing in the western edge of the lake have been removed. The improvements involving the waterwheel are just a part of a larger vision for the Heritage Park-WCCCD area.

Improvements and TAP

Using existing grants, the City has already made vast improvements to Heritage Park with many more to come. The dead end road that leads east out of Heritage Park toward WCCCD will be connected to the campus, making Heritage Park’s existing pathways that much more attractive, while offering walkers, joggers and cyclist longer routes without crossing major streets. Construction to connect that pathway between the park and the college will begin next week.

To build on that and in an effort to increase connectivity and non-motorized vehicle transportation, SEMCOG’s Regional Clearinghouse Review Committee selected Taylor for Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding in 2018, with focus on the to-be-developed “Fletcher Discovery Trail” and a new “Fletcher Park” (south of Heritage Park near Pardee and Superior).

The focus of the connectivity grant is:

  • To provide non-motorized connectivity between neighborhoods, parks, education and commerce centers
  • Move people safely by improving walk ability and bike ability
  • Provide comfortable access to all ages
  • Open access to surrounding neighborhoods
  • Make pedestrians comfortable
  • Create recreational destinations
  • And promote economic development and quality of life.

TAP which will create walking/jogging/cycling paths and other non-motor vehicle enhancements extending out from the Heritage Park and the WCCCD. Fletcher School was demolished last year. “Fletcher Discovery Trail” will be anchored by turning the property into parkland, “Fletcher Park,” with connective asphalt pathways and cutting through and other features added. The new and existing pathways would create connectivity from Midtown (Goddard Road) through Heritage Park, WCCCD, Racho Road, Fletcher and on into the Eureka Road business corridor (to the south) and Telegraph Road (to the west).

“The City of Taylor currently lacks the presence of bike or pedestrian routes or pathways,” Mayor Sollars said earlier this year. “This grant award will allow us to offer safer options for bikers and pedestrians in our community.

A 10-foot wide path will be created from the Northline Road entrance to Heritage Park south down Racho Road all the way to Eureka. It will cut also cut through the Fletcher property, and connect with Pardee and Superior. A new sidewalk will be created from Pardee to Racho to connect other sidewalks.

New bike sharing roads with “sharrows” and signage will come down Katherine Street from Goddard Road to Heritage Park and from Racho Road all the way down Superior to the Taylor Sportsplex.  A shared-lane marking or “sharrow” is a street marking placed in the travel lane to indicate where people should preferably cycle.

Thanks to the new connectivity, new bike racks will be located at City Hall, Taylor Recreation Center, Taylor Community Library, Heritage Park, WCCCD, the new Fletcher Park, Taylor Sportsplex, Meijer and Southland Center.

Connecting residents safely and comfortably with business, entertainment and recreational points is a key driver in Taylor’s resurgence as a community.

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