Peninsular Park is the site of focus for the Urban and Regional Planning students enrolled in Site Planning Studio this semester. For this class, students are required to assess a site, propose improvements, add features that fit with the character of the area, serve the general public and meet Ypsilanti’s design and construction standards.
Peninsular Park is situated in the northeast corner of Ypsilanti across the river from Peninsular Place Apartments. It is directly off LeForge Road, but is hidden to many passersby. It houses the historic Peninsular Paper Co. powerhouse and sign that is visible to pedestrians and motorists on N. Huron River Drive.
The seven-acre park is largely undeveloped and unused except for those cutting through to LeForge or the apartment complex. The park has minimal issues with crime, but most, if not all, is spillover from the adjacent apartment complexes or due to illegal dumping in the park.
One of the class’s assignments required them to create a Photographic SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis of the park. The class traveled to the park on a sunny afternoon to take the required pictures.
Upon parking they noticed that there was a white pickup truck with many old tires in the cab. The truck looked suspicious, and as the students got out of their cars the truck raced to the back of the park. After being in the back of the park for less than a minute, the truck quickly sped towards the entrance of the park.
There were no tires in the cab so one of the students took pictures of the truck and license plate. The truck sped off in an unknown direction. After confirming the large pile of tires in the turn-around, one of the students called the police to report the illegal dumping. The police came to the scene and were shown the photos of the truck and its license plate.
Ypsilanti’s City Council had been discussing increasing illegal dumping fines since October 2013 as Ypsilanti’s Downtown Development Authority had dealt with a significant influx of illegal dumping activity in the dumpsters in the parking lots on North Huron, South Huron and North Adams.
The incident in Peninsular Park happened the day before City Council voted on raising the fines. This incident allowed for City Councilors to unanimously vote in favor of increasing illegal dumping fines to mirror that of Ypsilanti Township and other surround communities.
No arrests have been made in regards to this incident, nor fines assessed, but illegal dumping fines have significantly increased in Ypsilanti. Originally illegal dumping was $50 for the first offense, $150 for repeat violation, and up to $300 maximum. Now, the first offense is $1,500, second offense is $2,250, and third offense is $3,000.
This experience taught the students the applicable importance of “eyes on the street” a concept of safety and community service accomplished by people who pay attention to the activities of their streets, sidewalks, and parks. All people within the community can make Ypsilanti a safer place to live, work, and play by looking out for each other and for unusual activities around them.