Continuing riverfront improvement on right path

THERE’S A POPULAR OLD song about New York City that waxes nostalgic about “East side, west side, all around the town.”

If all goes right in Plymouth, those words could be adapted to “East side, west side, all along the Mullet.”

City officials presented plans for the next phase of redevelopment along the Mullet River behind downtown at a stakeholders meeting last month.

As they entered the meeting in the Ladewig-Zinkgraf American Legion Post 243 building, participants could look across Stafford Street to see how well the first phase of that effort is doing.

In conjunction with private groups and civic organizations, the city is nearly done redeveloping the riverfront area between the municipal parking ramp and Stafford Street.

That effort included repaving and reconfiguring the parking lot, adding landscaping, constructing a pavilion/shelter building on the river and, as the centerpiece, a new Stayer Junior Park playground spearheaded by the Plymouth Lions Club.

The attractive new area has already become a popular magnet, drawing children and families to the bright new playground and visitors to the riverfront. The project earned the “Plymouth Community Impact Award” from the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and will be celebrated with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony May 19.

Now the city is looking to turn its attention to the riverfront area between Stafford and Milwaukee streets and is looking to property and business owners in that stretch to support and aid the effort.

The plans are not as ambitious or wide-ranging as what took place to the east, but they are still spectacular and a vast improvement nonetheless.

The key will be to create a link in the Mullet River Riverwalk, which now ends at the Stafford Street bridge and picks up again underneath the railroad bridge west of Milwaukee Street.

Filling in that gap in the riverwalk would be just one part of the effort, however.

The parking area, currently a hodge-podge of gravel, dirt and asphalt, would be upgraded with landscaping, ornamental trees, benches and other features that would greatly enhance the esthetics of the riverfront.

It would also create a new access and/or access/egress point in the space between the Legion building and the 52 Stafford Inn that would go a long way to alleviating what is currently a dangerous parking lot entrance off Stafford Street.

With all of the improvement, however, the best thing is that there would be little or no loss of parking spaces – either public or private – in the area, which is good news for those who live or do business on Mill Street between Stafford and Milwaukee streets.

All of that made a positive impression on those attending the information meeting. Allechant Boutique owner Jackie Pottratz summed up the feeling when she said, “We’re working diligently to bring customers into downtown and improve its appearance, and this would help.”

Indeed it would.

City Administrator Brian Yerges stressed at the meeting that the process is still in its early stages. He estimated that the earliest any actual work on the project might happen would be 2020.

But that journey must begin somewhere, and the informational meeting and the response to the plans presented are a great first step on that way.


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