Fletcher Discovery Trail to be created

TAP grant 1

Announced May 2017

When it comes to connecting one location to another in a large suburban community like Taylor, it often comes down to driving a car or truck – or not connecting at all. While that may have been fine at one time, residents (and potential newcomers) now want their community to feature more non-motor vehicle connectivity. Creating that type of climate isn’t always easy, but it just got easier in Taylor.

In an effort to increase connectivity, SEMCOG’s Regional Clearinghouse Review Committee selected the City for Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding in 2018, with focus on the to-be-developed “Fletcher Discovery Trail” and a new “Fletcher Park.”

The main focus of the connectivity grant is:

  1. To provide non-motorized connectivity between neighborhoods, parks, education and commerce centers
  2. Move people safely by improving walk ability and bike ability
  3. Provide comfortable access to all ages
  4. Open access to surrounding neighborhoods
  5. Make pedestrians comfortable
  6. Create recreational destinations
  7. And promote economic development and quality of life.

SEMCOG is awarding TAP funds of $443,865, with the City to match $295,910. The total budget for this project is $739,775. The TAP announcement was just one of several chapters of this project, which will create walking/jogging/cycling paths and other non-motor vehicle enhancements extending out from the community’s “cultural corridor” of Heritage Park and the Wayne County Community College’s Downriver District campus.

The old Fletcher School site along Pardee Road near Superior is the key element to this particular step in the process. Fletcher School was demolished last year. The property, which is traversed by a long drain, is not ideally suitable for development. Instead, a “Fletcher Discovery Trail” will be anchored by turning the property into parkland, “Fletcher Park,” with connective asphalt pathways cutting through. The new and existing pathways would create connectivity from Midtown (Goddard Road) through Heritage Park, WCCCD, Racho Road, Fletcher and on into the Eureka Road business corridor (to the south) and Telegraph Road (to the west).

"Increasing alternative transportation options in our community is part of our greater vision moving forward, a vision not only shared by our partners at SEMCOG, but the leadership at Wayne County Community College, which has supported our efforts in creating a ’cultural corridor ’ in and around the Heritage Park location," said Mayor Rick Sollars.

“The City of Taylor currently lacks the presence of bike or pedestrian routes or pathways.  This grant award will allow us to offer safer options for bikers and pedestrians in our community.

"The creation of the Fletcher Discovery Trail will serve as yet another productive chapter in those efforts, connecting key areas like Heritage Park, WCCCD, Superior Blvd., the Eureka Way retail and entertainment district and even Telegraph Road."

A 10-foot wide path will be created from the Northline Road entrance to Heritage Park south down Racho Road all the way to Eureka. It will cut also cut through the Fletcher property, and connect with Pardee and Superior. A new sidewalk will be created from Pardee to Racho to connect other sidewalks.

New bike sharing roads with “sharrows” and signage will come down Katherine Street from Goddard Road to Heritage Park and from Racho Road all the way down Superior to the Taylor Sportsplex.  A shared-lane marking or “sharrow” is a street marking placed in the travel lane to indicate where people should preferably cycle.

Thanks to the new connectivity, new bike racks will be located at City Hall, Taylor Recreation Center, Taylor Community Library, Heritage Park, WCCCD, the new Fletcher Park, Taylor Sportsplex, Meijer and Southland Center.

Other specific plans for the new Fletcher Park will be announced in the near future.

Mayor Sollars added that the plans in the TAP grant fit nicely into future plans for the Eureka Road business district, which is undergoing its biggest modernization in decades, thanks to huge investments from Southland Center and Menards.

A partnership between Wayne County and the Taylor Tax Increment Finance Authority (TIFA) calls for new streetscape project including a bike-pedestrian friendly district between Allen Road and Telegraph. This would include traveler-friendly bus stops (there are 12 in that area), better connectivity to shopping centers, and improved intersections.

Southland has invested tens of millions of dollars into its mall, a key element being the creation of the Cinemark Theater where the old Mervyn’s once sat. Other key additions have been H&M, Primanti Bros. and Grimaldi’s. BJ Restaurant and Brewhouse is getting ready to be built on the out lot, near Pardee and Eureka.

Menards brought the entire 80-plus-acre property where the Gibraltar Trade Center once stood, and is beginning to build. In that area, Wayne County already moved up improvements to Eureka Road specifically targeting the Menards’ project, which will be called Trader’s Point. It will include at least two other major retailers and many other smaller businesses.

The project has been compared to Fairlane Green in Allen Park, commonly known as “The Hill.” However, Trader’s Point is much bigger in scope.

As a result of all of this activity, many others have sited in the general area. Wahlburgers, of actor Mark Wahlberg fame, purchased the old Big Boy and will renovate it and open this fall (pushed back by a major partnership with Meijer). La-Z-Boy just built a showroom on the old Taylor Tool site, and that development will include a Pearle Vision, Tropic Smoothie and a fitness center.

Others that have moved into the district have include Golden Corral, Vitamin Shoppe, Qdoba, SkyZone, Panera Bread, PizzaPapalis and many others. Bubba’s 33 restaurant, a spin off of Texas Roadhouse, plans a location in the Burlington Square and a Hilton Home2Suites location has been approved near Gander Mountain, adjacent to Southland on Pardee Road.

Connecting residents safely and comfortably with business, entertainment and recreational points is a key driver in Taylor’s resurgence as a community.

Using an existing grant, the City has already made vast improvements to Heritage Park. The dead end road that leads east out of Heritage Park toward WCCCD will be connected to the campus, making Heritage Park’s existing pathways that much more attractive, while offering walkers, joggers and cyclist longer routes without crossing major streets. Another grant, via WCCCD, will also motorize the waterwheel at Coan Lake, which will also be fitted with lights for the first time. At night, the lights on the waterwheel and the three new fountains in the waterway will create a beautiful setting for park-goers.


UPDATE: December 2018

The Fletcher Discovery Trail proposal, a vision that calls for walking, running and cycling paths connecting the Midtown Goddard corridor with Heritage Park, Wayne County Community College’s Downriver Campus, a new park along Pardee and the Eureka Road business district, is becoming a reality.

Work started on a phase one of the series of non-motorized pathways in early September 2018 and is well on its way to completion. A new pathway already connects Heritage Park with WCCCD, and other paths and connectors are being installed between Goddard Road and the park, and then down Racho Road and through the old Fletcher Park School property, located between Racho and Pardee, south of Heritage Park and Northline Road.

Work was delayed by winter weather, and will be completed in Spring 2019.

Non-motorized travel is a big part of today’s America. People enjoy the exercise and welcome avoiding use of their car or truck. Mayor Rick Sollars has emphasized that the trail is a work in progress, and that it will proceed in a tiered fashion, especially when it comes to the finalization of what has been dubbed “Fletcher Park.” As part of the current phase, the 10-foot-wide asphalt pathways are being installed, along with a roundabout, throughout the formerly undeveloped, tree-lined parcel between Racho and Pardee.

Phase 1 will include:
• Shared use paths in the new park location
• Shared use paths along Racho Road from Northline to Eureka
• Shared use paths along Superior from Racho to Telegraph
• And shared use paths along Katherine Street from Goddard to Heritage Park.

The discovery trail will be a combination of 10-foot wide paths, sidewalks, sharrows, new signage and bike racks. A shared-lane marking or “sharrow,” is a street marking placed in the travel lane to indicate where people should preferably cycle.

Under a separate partnership agreement, the WCCCD Campus Police regularly patrols the Heritage Park area. As Fletcher Discovery Trail is completed south of Heritage Park, those same campus police will support Taylor Police patrols with regular patrols.

The old Fletcher School property, located directly across Pardee Road from Coachlight Circle, is one of the keys to the discovery trail. The property, which is traversed by a two different arms of the Sutliff and Kenope Drain, is not ideally suitable for development. At one point years ago, Masco Corporation owned and sought to develop the site, but eventually gave up because of the problematic terrain and sold it back to the City.