The construction behind Walgreens on Bowes Road has intrigued some people. Why, they wonder, is there what looks like a second parking lot behind the playground? And when will the park be completed?
We met with Lowell Township Supervisor Jerry Hale to get the answers. Here’s a video of our conversation, and then keep reading for more details.
Playground and Pickleball
The park will feature a diverse mix of amenities that will appeal to visitors of all ages. The playground, bathrooms and concession stand are already complete. While families can use the playground now, Hale notes the bathrooms likely won’t be unlocked for public use until the park officially opens next year.
As for that second parking lot, it only looks like concrete. A special substance is being used there to make for a softer surface. Then fences and nets will be added, and the area will be transformed into eight pickleball courts. If you’re unfamiliar with pickleball, Hale describes it as similar to tennis but slower paced. The video below shows pickleball in action.
Hale has had discussions with pickleball organizations that are interested in potentially bringing a national championship to Lowell once the courts are complete. People from all over the country travel to these competitions, and it’s estimated a local area sees $80,000-$120,000 in economic activity as a result of a national competition.
The park’s concession stand will be used during these and other events held on the property.
Bridge Will Connect Two Parks
One prominent feature of the park is a bridge that will connect the new North Grand River Riverfront Park to the existing Riverfront Park that is located on the south side of the river.
Once completed, the structure will be one of the longest timber framed bridges in the country. It will be elevated so it will sit above the 100-year floodplain and make a stop on an island in the river before continuing to the south bank of the Grand River.
Lowell Township plans to install cameras and other security features along the bridge, and it should be ready for public use next summer.
The bridge is about a third of a mile south of the main park, and a paved walking trail will lead to it. For those who remember the small locomotive that ran on the property decades ago, the trail will run along a berm created for the train’s rails.
Hale says former Lowell Township Supervisor John Timpson Sr. had the original vision of providing some way for pedestrians to travel from the north side of the Grand River to the south. In recognition of Timpson’s leadership in this area, Hale is hoping to have a plaque placed on the bridge in his honor.
Park Behind Schedule, Should Open Next Year
When asked if the park is on schedule, Hale laughs and says no. The material for the pickleball courts came from Germany and was delayed. Then, when it arrived, the weather turned rainy, and the court material can only be installed in dry weather.
However, Hale is confident the entire project will be done by next summer. That includes a gaga pit at the main park and paved trails to the bridge as well as connector trails to the Lowell Area Trailway and to a disc golf course west of the bridge.
Hale says the total project cost is close to $5 million, and the money has come from private donations, grants and other sources.
One of the very first articles written by Lowell’s First Look outlined how it all came together. While the photos from that article appear to have been lost in a technical black hole, you can read that story for more information about the park’s development.