RiverFront Conservancy starts thinking about West Riverfront

Preliminary discussion on Detroit's West Riverfront began last week when the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy held a public meeting at the Delray Senior Pavilion in Southwest Detroit.

Even though the East Riverfront is still about 20 percent away from completion, says Matt Cullen, chair of the Conservancy's board of directors, it's time to start thinking about the West Riverfront.

The East Riverfront's planning began in 2003 and the first significant public component was opened in 2007. The West, Cullen says, is going to take just as long.

Unfortunately there is no timetable and no price tag placed on the West Riverfront portion. The East cost $300 million. It is, however, two miles longer than the East's 3.5 miles and poses a few more challenges like the acreage along the river that is owned by the railroad company as well as the land and issues revolving around the bridge company.

Initial planning, which the conservancy says is in no way concrete or locked in, showed a "Riverside Drive" that connects East Jefferson and West Jefferson, creating a new stretch of road that would essentially cut the length from Fort Street to the Detroit River in half.

Reaction was mixed of this proposal with the biggest contention aimed at taking away some of Detroit's green space. Concern was also raised that Southwest might not be a part of the planning process.

Faye Alexander Nelson, president and CEO of the Conservancy, had to remind the audience on several occasions that the planning is beginning now and the community will be a big component of the process.

"This will be challenging," Cullen says. "But a real exciting opportunity."

The Conservancy says they'll continue to have public meetings as the process for the West Riverfront moves a long.

Source: The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy
Writer: Terry Parris Jr.

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