Submitted by Yvonne Ridge, City of Eaton Rapids

(Photo Provided)


On April 20, the American Society of Civil Engineering (ACSE) Lansing-Jackson Branch will honor the City’s recent transformation of their historic island and surround area in the heart of Eaton Rapids.
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Island is a two-acre landmass in the Grand River, connected to the rest of Eaton Rapids by a bridge on either side of the island. This park has been closely tied to Eaton Rapids’ history, recreation, and public events for generations. But in recent years, the park was beginning to show its age: deterioration in the seawalls, outdated playground equipment, erosion, and more.
With the help of $2.8 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant, also known as the CDBG Program, Eaton Rapids was able to invest not only in repairs but in placemaking amenities that will attract more visitors to the city’s downtown district.
Under the direction of Lansing-based engineering firm C2AE, this project reconstructed seawalls and replaced a pedestrian bridge, introduced a new walkway system to the city’s recreation center, replaced playground equipment, enhanced connectivity to the city’s trail network for pedestrians and cyclists, brought in two ADA-compliant fishing and observation piers, and rejuvenated the landscaping to reduce stormwater runoff into the river.
Key stakeholders on the project included City of Eaton Rapids, various community groups, Upper Grand River Watershed Planning Initiative Steering Committee, Eaton County Drain Commissioner, Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE), Community Development Block Grant, Laux Construction, and C2AE.
Representatives from Eaton Rapids and C2AE will receive ASCE’s Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Award at Lugnuts Stadium in Lansing later this month.
“We are so proud of the work our city and community partners have put into restoring this historic park and in enhancing our downtown recreation and shopping district,” said Mayor Pam Colestock. With this project complete, we hope to see G.A.R Island Park thrive for another 100 years.”