Rotary Park is located 2 blocks east of Michigan's State Capitol and immediately north of the Lansing Conference Center, at the NE quadrant of Michigan Avenue and the Grand River in downtown Lansing. Designed by Landscape Architects and Planners, Inc. (LAP), the new riverfront park showcases the success of a collaborative attempt to create a multi-use destination for residents and visitors.
The philosophy behind this project was to rejuvenate an outdoor space to attract people, create a new vibe, and demonstrate a reinvestment in downtown. This philosophy included generating funding from private sources while utilizing public land, thereby creating a public/private partnership. As a result, the project entailed the renovation of a worn and tattered urban space located on public parkland using almost entirely private donations and only a small portion of public "Brownfield money" which will be paid back over time.
The value of this project is reflected in the way in which it was funded, designed, and is now celebrated by the public and the private donors. The design resulted from many different meetings coordinated by the Greater Lansing Community Foundation. The outreach consisted of regular community input on the design and requests for fundraising. The value has been expressed through use of the space from the public and the donors. The local media became intrigued and started writing articles on the unique features of the urban park design, and people's positive reaction to the "quirky" features.
Lansing is not located along a lake or ocean. It is a land-locked city in the center of the state. It does however have a river that runs through the center of its urban core. As a distinct contrast to the urban surroundings, the designer specified approximately 300 C.Y. of pure, Lake Michigan beach sand. The beach is separated from the river by a 15' wide native landscape buffer and the sand is contained by a pre-cast block retaining wall. When sitting in the sand, the angle at which the beach is elevated above the water provides an "infinity pool" feel, giving the perception that the beach is touching the river. On any given day or evening, many people can been seen using the beach for martial arts classes, yoga, sand volleyball, sunbathing, lounging, or playing in the sand with their children.
The beach serves a secondary purpose of water quality treatment consisting of stormwater detention, filtration, and water polishing. Much of the site's stormwater flows into the beach area. The water then seeps down through the sand, filtering out many of the pollutants and debris. Maintenance staff uses specialized vibrating rakes to remove any debris caught in the sand. The water then percolates through geotextile fabric below the sand, into the ground. During peak rain events, when water accumulates in the beach area the water leaches out through weeps in the retaining wall, into the native landscape buffer, before entering the river.
"The Grand Staircase"
Descending to the edge of the Grand River is a series of concrete stairs and seat ledges. At night, the staircase casts a glow from LED lights strategically placed under the nose of the seat walls. The lights reflect off the water creating a beautiful evening focal point and making the stairways easy to navigate at night. Along the bottom of the staircase are cleats for boats to tie up and dock, including the Princess riverboat which provides tours along the Grand River.
As seen in LASN magazine, April 2020.