Construction of a new park and Wayne County's largest splash pad under way in Van Buren Township

A series of placemaking projects is well under way in Van Buren Township, the western Wayne County community situated halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

And if these late spring rains ever let up, the projects should be completed by some time this August.

"These projects bring value to the community," says Lisa Lothringer, assistant executive director for the Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority.

"When people are looking to purchase a home they’re not just looking at the house but at the whole community."

A new park is being constructed on Belleville Road in the middle of Van Buren’s business district.

Named for the Harris family, one of the first African American families to settle in the area, the park will feature a building for offices, community meetings, and small business workshops. The park will also feature benches, a pavilion, a pergola, picnic tables, walking paths, and wifi.

An already-established park, Quirk Park, is set to receive a number of upgrades, the flashiest of which, a 6,537 sq. ft. splash pad, is being billed as the largest in Wayne County. Access to the splash pad is free of charge.

Also planned for Quirk Park are new benches, a changing room, pavilion, picnic tables, playground, sun sails, and walking paths. The family of Egypt Covington is paying for a memorial area dedicated to the slain woman.

The community recently celebrated the opening of a new pedestrian bridge over I-94 along Belleville Road. While some aesthetic touches remain, the bridge is currently open to pedestrians and bicyclists.

"We’ve already seen a significant amount of people crossing over the new bridge, which makes us very happy," Lothringer says.

Furthering their desire for a more pedestrian-friendly community, Lothringer says that Van Buren Township is also working to add more sidewalks in their neighborhoods and provide connecting points to the Iron Belle Trail.

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