Thursday, June 9, 2016


So this past February my children and I were thrilled to come across the new Border to Border Trail located on the Water Street property in Ypsilanti as we were traipsing around town on foot. It was a chilly winter morning but we decided to peel off Michigan Ave and explore the trail that runs along the beautiful Huron River. The trail was newly adorned with wooden over-hanging decks that brought you right over the waters edge. Nifty wooden benches were scattered here and there throughout the entirety of the trail that winds along the river through the woods. It was and is beautiful. My seven year old daughter remarked that she couldn't wait to come here in the summer when everything would be "green and pretty." I told that was an excellent idea. We even talked about having a picnic.

Well, scrap the picnic because the place is polluted with harmful toxins. Great. Now I get to break the news to my seven year old.

From what I know the situation came to light in April when residents were told to stay off the Border to Border Trail situated on the Water Street property. According to tests that were done, elevated levels of toxins were found on the site. These toxins include PCBs and Polychlorinated Biphenyls. I have no idea what Polychlorinated Biphenyls are but I certainly don't want to picnic around them.

Tuesday I went down to the entrance of the trail on Michigan Ave just to see how things were looking. Well, things didn't look so hot. Amid the large Water Street Redevelopment Ready sign near the entrance I found KEEP OUT, NO TRESPASSING and TRAIL CLOSED signs. Re development ready? I don't think so. The fact that the entrance area looked unkempted and over grown with weeds didn't help either.

What are we citizens of Ypsilanti supposed to think when we learn that contamination levels were at 10 to 40 times what state and federal regulations allow. This according to an mlive article regarding a letter from Michigan State Housing Development Authority Environmental manager, Dan Lince. Furthermore, word on the street is that the proposed Eastside Recreation Center that was supposed to be constructed on the Water Street property has backed out of the deal. I don't know for certain whether this is a fact or not, but folks I have spoken to say they have heard the Recreation Center deal is dead. Fact or fiction? I can only speculate. There is also speculation that a new developer is interested in the Water Street property.

So, what's the plan for the Water Street Border to Border Trail and when will it re open? Wednesday morning I put a call into the office of Ypsilanti city economic development director, Beth Ernat. I was hoping to receive information regarding the current status of the Border to Border Trail and to attain information regarding speculation that the Eastside Recreation Center deal is kaput, and if there is indeed another developer interested in the Water Street property. As of Thursday evening Beth Ernat has not responded to my phone call.

The bottom line is, what is really going on with the Water Street Border to Border Trail and what is going on with Water Street in general? There is a Water Street debt millage vote coming up in August and people want and deserve to know.

Jeff Brown
Purple Walrus Press.
  Border to Border Trail Water Street property Ypsilanti, MI.  Purple Walrus Press photo.

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