The island park has been closed to vehicular traffic since April due to safety and security issues at the park. At the June 21 City Council meeting, City Manager Tim Morales provided an update on the planned upgrades and safety improvements for Ojibway.
The City has spent a significant amount of time researching ways to safely reopen vehicle access on Ojibway. Currently, parking at the front of the island is very limited. The planned improvements at Ojibway would include adding a paved area for additional parking at the entrance of the island and installing barricades to close off the circular drive to circumvent large numbers of vehicles driving through the park.
“Unfortunately, there were instances of citizens actually driving their vehicles through the grass and large gatherings that were creating safety issues for everyone at the island. Some of the repairs for these incidents were rather costly for the city.” --Tim Morales, City Manager.
The improvement plan for Ojibway will create access to the island so that citizens can enjoy the many outdoor amenities, but limit access to the entire circular drive. This will require the City to install temporary barriers along the circular drive and pave a portion of the area at the front of the island for parking. The city is also planning to stripe parallel parking spaces for parking at the Ezra Rust Street entrance.
Phil Karwat, Director of Public Works, also spoke at the June 21 council meeting and provided further information. “Our plan is to close access to the entire circular drive, but create an area in the front of the island close to the pedestrian bridge to accommodate additional parking. “ The barriers to the circular drive would not be permanent and could be removed for special events and large gatherings that have been approved through the Parks and Facilities Division.
“We feel this is the most practical and beneficial option that works year-round for the city. It will create additional spaces at the front of the park for ice fishermen in the winter, and allow easy access for families and individuals to enjoy a run, bike ride or picnic during the summer. Much of the work can be completed with our own city crews.”—Phil Karwat.
After sharing the details of the plans at the June 21 meeting, City Council approved the motion authorizing the planned upgrades for an amount not to exceed $11,000. This will allow the city to begin the upgrades immediately. “We understand that visiting Ojibway is a summertime tradition for many, and our goal is to properly complete these upgrades as quickly as possible.”— Tim Morales. The City anticipates three to four weeks for the upgrades and hopes to reopen Ojibway later in July.
Saginaw City Council also approved the purchase of security cameras to be installed throughout Ojibway earlier in April 2021. As the camera installations are being completed, the added changes to parking and drive access will begin.
Mayor Brenda Moore commented, “It’s time to move forward. We know that many, many citizens want to see the gates reopened, but we are not looking for a quick fix. We are looking out for the safety of our citizens, and to protect the magnificent beauty that makes Ojibway so special. This plan will create a safe environment and allow everyone to enjoy this phenomenal park for many years to come.”
Continuous updates regarding the opening of Saginaw’s parks will be available on the City of Saginaw website www.saginaw-mi.com and on the City's Facebook page www.facebook.com/cityofsaginawgovernment.