Auburn Hills hopes to build new park at former Country Kitchen site

The city of Auburn Hills is crossing its fingers these next few weeks as it awaits word from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. City officials are hoping that the DNR approves its application for matching grant money to build a new park.

Operating under the working title of Kayak Point Park, the city would like to transform eight acres of vacant land at the northeast corner of Auburn and Opdyke roads, the former site of the old Country Kitchen restaurant. The site has 800 feet of river frontage on the Clinton River.

"City council put together a Green Team to look at potential properties for redevelopment," says Stephanie Carroll, manager of business development and community relations for Auburn Hills. "And then they found this perfect passive park with river access."

A passive park means that the site would lack amenities like playground equipment and instead focus on creating a more natural setting, with plants and landscaping that control erosion and don’t require a lot of maintenance.

Auburn Hills applied for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund matching grant of $199,600 to build Kayak Point Park. Carroll believes that the city will find out the status of its grant application within the next few weeks.

Should the city win the grant, construction of the new park would wrap up in 2019 or 2020.

With access to the riverfront, officials envision the park as a great fishing spot or launch pad for kayaks.

"Since 2009, we’ve been working on our riverwalk masterplan. We look at it every year to see how we can meet our goals. Kayak Point Park does that," Carroll says.

"It’s a longstanding goal of ours to highlight the Clinton River as an asset of our community."

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.