Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 30, 2013

Students offer plan to enhance downtown river frontage

TRAVERSE CITY — Landscape architecture graduate students from the University of Michigan have laid out a plan to enhance the Boardman River’s frontage and adjoining lands in downtown Traverse City.

Classmates in U-M’s School of Natural Resources and Environment presented their Lower Boardman River Revitalization Plan at a recent Downtown Development Authority meeting. Some of the features include a whitewater park at the Union Street Dam, fishing pier at the mouth of the Boardman — both discussed in the past — along with a terraced gathering space across the river from the downtown farmers market, a rain garden, amphitheater built into the hill in Hannah Park, and more.

“We’ve had U of M grad students do this kind of thing before,” said DDA Executive Director Bryan Crough. “They did one for us on connecting downtown to the bay front, then they volunteered to help with this one.

“What the students did was sort of take all of the thinking that’s been going on for years — the idea of a whitewater park on the Boardman included — and sort of visualize them and then connect them,” he said.

Student Katie Dennis said she and the others who worked on the plan all year as their final project before graduation felt the river’s current attractions are disjointed. There is great opportunity for development that will maximize the benefits of the river while protecting it, too, she said.

“We noticed a lot of erosion along the banks, maybe a lack of fish habitat in certain areas, and found that in addition to providing the (improved) circulation, the Boardman River could really benefit from some ecological intervention as well,” Dennis said. “We wanted to design a riverwalk for our project that improved pedestrian circulation along the river and really knit the river into the identity of the community as a whole.

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