GREEN Task Force Releases “Vision of Greenways” Plan for Detroit’s Lower East Side

Funded by a grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, this plan will serve as a catalyst for economic development, a tool for bringing communities together, and a way of defining a new future for Detroit’s east riverfront.
 
 
March 15, 2012 - PRLog -- The GREEN Task Force, a task force including local residents and members of groups including the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Villages CDC and the Mt. Elliott Business Community Association, released its detailed action plan for the establishment of a network of 10 individual greenway routes and four non-motorized route improvements on Detroit’s lower east side.  

Funded by a $213,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, “Vision of Greenways” will serve as a catalyst for economic development, a tool for bringing communities together, and a way of defining a new future for Detroit’s east riverfront.  

The plan, which can be viewed at http://thevillagesofdetroit.com/greenways, includes an analysis of the east side study area, which is roughly between Mack and the riverfront, from the Dequindre Cut downtown to the border with Grosse Pointe Park; the local greenways system; the suggested 16 miles of new or expanded greenways, or linked linear parks; project priorities; and an organizational outline for implementation of the multi-year effort. The recommended routes include the:
•   Elmwood Connector
•   Belt Line Greenway (rail trail conversion)
•   Kercheval Greenway
•   Burns Connector
•   Conner Creek Greenway enhancements
•   Sweet Loop
•   Fox Creek Greenway
•   Far East Connector
•   Carstens Spur
•   RiverWalk Extension

The four recommended enhancement areas are:
•   East Jefferson Avenue, from I-375 to Alter Road – making East Jefferson a complete street
•   Lafayette Street, from Iroquois Street into downtown – creating bike lanes
•   Grand Boulevard – connecting to multifamily housing and linking south to Belle Isle
•   Freud Street – connecting the Creekside neighborhood to the Marina District

“Vision of Greenways” was written after more than 18 months of research, discussion with community members and stakeholders throughout Detroit, and data analysis, including a review of the area’s unique characteristics.

“Greenways provide much more than ways to get somewhere without a car,” said Maggie DeSantis, chair of the GREEN Task Force and board member of the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative. “Greenways improve health and safety by creating recreational venues, beautifying neighborhoods, creating nodes of economic development, and by connecting neighborhoods and residents to each other, and to the broader city.”

“Detroit’s lower east side already offers many amenities, from distinct residential architecture in neighborhoods like Indian Village and Jefferson-Chalmers, to magnificent vistas of the Detroit River,” adds Brian Hurttienne, executive director of the non-profit Villages Community Development Corp., one member of the GREEN Task Force.  “’Vision of Greenways’ shows the way to enhance what we have and make our city a greener, healthier place to live, work and play.”

While the “Vision of Greenways” requires additional funding, site-specific planning, and public approvals, it is the most detailed plan ever outlined for creating greenways on the lower east side.

“‘Vision of Greenways’ paints a detailed picture of greenways that will belong to everyone in Detroit,” said Tom Woiwode, director of the GreenWays Initiative, a program of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.  “The GREEN Task Force has done an admirable job providing a framework for understanding and moving forward with a great vision of hope.”

The GREEN Task Force hopes that the plan will build support for: funding, design and construction of the routes; the establishment of land control where each greenway would be built; and the creation of a sustainable operational entity with the capacity and funding to build and maintain new greenways.


The GREEN Task Force is a coalition of non-profit organizations and greenways stakeholders, including: community residents, the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Detroit Greenways Coalition, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Gleaners Community Food Bank, Jefferson East Business Association, Mt Elliott Business and Community Association, West Village Association.  It is facilitated by The Villages Community Development Corporation.

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations committed to the future of southeast Michigan.  The Foundation works to improve the region’s quality of life by connecting those who care with causes that matter. The Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs.  Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $490 million through nearly 40,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.  For more information, please visit www.cfsem.org.
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