By Edward Cardenas
DETROIT (CBSDetroit.com) – Dignitaries may have lauded the efforts Friday of the public-private partnership which led to the creation of the renovated Mt. Elliott Park, but it was the children attending the ceremony who appreciated the work of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy the most as they played in the water at a new splash pad.
Elected officials, community groups and residents gathered along the Detroit riverfront for the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Mt. Elliott Park and Pavilion.
The park is the newest access point to the river, which for many years was inaccessible due to development and private landowners.
“Physically and emotionally we were too long separated from this river, blocked off by industrial sites, waste dumps, railroad tracks…many of our people never even thought of the river because they couldn’t easily see it or access it,” U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, who credited the work of visionary people, businesses, foundations and non-profits for opening access to the water.
“This park is another link in the chain of human-scale places up and down this riverfront. A chain that one day soon will be unbroken along the east riverfront,” Levin added.
This is the third plaza and pavilion to be developed during the nearly 10-year effort by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to develop pathways, parks and green space along the nearly three-mile stretch of riverfront in Detroit.
The park features fishing piers, walkways, restrooms, a cafe and the centerpiece – a water park with a Great Lakes schooner-themed water feature with water cannons, waterfalls and waters sprays.
“The progress, the results and the impact on our community are just transcending anything that any of us expected,” said Matt Cullen, board chairman of the Conservancy.
He added that development along the east riverfront is about 80 percent completed, with additional work to come in the coming year at the former Uniroyal plant; making the parks near Chene Park more accessible and adding pathways to Gabriel Richard Park.
Cullen stated that later this summer the Conservancy will open a 20-acre park on the west riverfront for residents of Corktown, Mexicantown and southwest Detroit.