Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 2, 2012

Center will help bring Kids Creek new life


---- — Almost any construction, be it a new home or business or an expansion of an existing building, means more concrete, more asphalt, more roads and sidewalks and, in general, less green.

That has certainly been the case at Munson Medical Center, which over the decades has grown and grown to keep up with the region's population explosion and the need for more beds, more surgery facilities, more gadgets, a high-tech emergency room and more employees.

Right now, Munson is getting ready for another expansion, this time a new cancer center at the main campus that will help people from across the north get state-of-the-art treatment for one of our most insidious killers. It will be a big step for the region and will no doubt save lives.

A strange — but welcome — thing has happened along the way. Munson has also begun a $2 to $3 million effort to reroute — and reinvigorate — Kids Creek, a good-sized creek that meanders through much of Traverse City's southwest side, including the Slabtown neighborhood, and empties into the Boardman River just south of Front Street.

Kids Creek had been rerouted over the years and in places even encased in concrete to make way for various buildings and streets, many of them related to the medical business. Some buildings are now being torn down and the businesses relocated to make room for the cancer center or to create a new bed for Kids Creek.

The creek project will place some underground sections above ground.

"We call this daylighting a stream. Any time you can do that on a stream it's great. It's going to improve the habitat and health of the stream. It will have a nice buffer along the stream; it will have a place for the stream to spill out of its bank ...," said Sarah U'Ren, program director for The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.

The goal is to plant and landscape in the spring, including creating new places to walk and sit by the creek, and open the newly directed flow in fall of 2013.

Building a new cancer center and keeping it at the main campus and not out at Copper Ridge, as was once considered, is obviously the big news here. There's no telling how many lives will be saved or made better by having a dedicated, modern cancer center here.

But bringing Kids Creek back to life is important, too. Decades of kids who grew up on the west side of town can remember wading, playing and fishing in Kids Creek. It was a big part of life that, in some places, essentially ceased to exist as a living body of water.

That's no way to treat a creek.