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Comstock Park to get a "Community Plaza"

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Overgrown vacant property in downtown Comstock Park that is inhabited by feral cats and other critters is getting a big makeover.
Two lots on the northwest corner of West River Drive and School Street are being turned into a “Community Plaza.” The Comstock Park Downtown Development Authority purchased the lots recently on behalf of Plainfield Township with plans to beautify the area on West River Drive between School Street and the Speedway gas station at Division Avenue. Ethan Ebenstein, Comstock Park school superintendent and DDA Board member, said the facelift will benefit the community.

“Currently this property is vacant and unused, allowing a number of small animals and (undesirable) plants to thrive in this ecosystem,” said Ebenstein. “It has become vastly overgrown and is not the best image for our community members or for the (drivers) that travel daily on West River Drive.”
The Plaza will be a circular brick design with decorative plantings and landscaping, accent lighting, and built-in seating available for community use. It will be accessible from sidewalks on both West River Drive and School Street.

Katerberg VerHage Landscape in Grand Rapids will do the upgrade, expected to cost $177,900. Construction is expected to begin in late September with most of the work completed this Fall and finishing touches in the Spring (2017). Lane closures are expected on School Street, but should not interfere with traffic on the two-lane, one-way street.

Kevin Gritters, project manager at Prein Newhof (engineering) in Grand Rapids, said the site will be cleared and graded to create level areas to be more easily used by the public. “A short concrete retaining wall built in a semi-circle will separate the lower elevation plaza area from the higher elevation landscaped and lawn areas,” said Gritters, adding the plaza area brickwork will have two colors of concrete pavers. There will be six benches, a litter receptacle, and lighting in the concrete wall as well as upward-facing lights under the three largest new trees and two new light poles. The lights will function with the other lights along West River Drive to turn on at dusk and off at dawn.

“The Community Plaza will allow not only the beautification of the property and serve as a warm, welcoming site for visitors and commuters,” said Ebenstein, “but will also create a park-like setting for everyone to enjoy with the seating, lighting, and landscaping that accompanies the project.”

Ebenstein said the project will visually enhance the West River Dive corridor to and from downtown Comstock Park, as well as “provide a spot for individuals, groups and families to enjoy.” The site and project will also allow for future expansion and development “for historical information,” such as monuments, about Comstock Park, to recognize and celebrate community accomplishments,” and may include “signage to promote community events.”