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SITE FOR SORE EYES: Beautifying Fish Hatchery Park upgrades nearly complete

 SITE FOR SORE EYES: Beautifying Fish Hatchery Park upgrades nearly complete

The restoration of Fish Hatchery Park is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

It’s been three years since work began on Fish Hatchery Park to replant the 1,050 foot creek bed along Johnson Creek, add depth to the pond and install a fish ladder where the creek meets the pond.

Rock veins were placed in the creek to control the flow and prevent erosion.

Maintenance is ongoing as Anglin Construction and a subcontractor remove invasive species as well as plants and trees that didn’t survive, and replant some items to restore a natural state. The intended result has not yet been achieved but it’s getting there. For the time being, please stay off the banks, which are protected by plastic fencing.

“It takes three to four years for vegetation to completely come in,” said Nate Reilly, park superintendent for Northville Parks and Recreation.

Benches have been installed along the pond at Fish Hatchery Park
Benches have been installed along the pond at Fish Hatchery Park

During the project, the existing concrete wall was replaced with a natural earthen berm held in place by sheet metal pilings.

The bank was landscaped with hundreds of native plants, which develop deep roots to anchor the ground and prevent soil erosion, resist disease, and thrive in their natural climate.

Collaborative effort

The transformation of the park was made possible with a $963,090 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that was administered by the Alliance of Rouge Communities (ARC), a group of local municipalities, counties and other institutions that work to improve water quality of the Rouge River watershed.

The project was designed by Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. with engineering support from Soil Materials and Engineers (SME).

The grant-funded project is expected to be completed at the end of 2023 when all of the paperwork is submitted. At  that point, the creek maintenance will be turned back to the Northville Parks & Recreation Department.

The recently-installed playground at Fish Hatchery Park.
The recently installed playground at Fish Hatchery Park

Reilly said access to the landing points — flat rocks — will be added along the creek bed so park visitors can go to the water’s edge.

On the wish list is adding  a fountain to the middle of the pond, which is now 4-1/2 feet deep in places.

Prior to the project, it was only 1-1/2 feet deep. The creek bed will look even better when dead willow trees along the opposite bank are removed in the coming years.

Unique creek

The Johnson Creek is one of the few cold water creeks in southeastern Michigan that also supports a trout population. The park has historical significance as one of the largest fish hatcheries in the U.S. Once the new growth starts to flourish, it will give the park a whole new look and make the pond and creek a cleaner habitat for fish, insects, wildlife and plants.

Learn more about the history and restoration at a lecture being given by Mayor Brian Turnbull and ECT consultants on June 10, 10 a.m. to noon, at Mill Race Village. View link here.

There’s more to the park than the pretty, winding creek.

A lot to offer

An asphalt walking path extends from the parking lot along the waterway to behind one of the two baseball fields. From there, a limestone path completes the loop back to the parking lot.

New playground equipment is in place and a new concrete flooring has been installed under the pavilion.

There are also tennis courts and pickleball courts. The park has plenty of memorial benches for rest and enjoying the ambience.

Thanks to City of Northville Communications Specialist Liz Cezat for contributing this article and photos to

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Ed Wright

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