By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – The City Council authorized a land trade March 12 utilizing Kennedy Park for the construction of a new preschool and elementary where Rogers is located, subject to voter millage approval.
Rogers Early Elementary, 5000 Shenandoah, which is located within Allen Park, is part of the Melvindale-Northern Allen Park School District. The site is west of I-94, east of Shenandoah, south of Keppen and north of Anne.
The new school proposal would provide an increased volume of parking spaces, improve drainage in the green space, and add a paved walking trail, ball diamond and an accessible playground. The concept drawing represents the third round of changes, Mayor William Matakas said.
The most recent set of plans has an added parking lot perpendicular to Shenandoah, Matakas said. He said Allen Park Parks and Recreation Director Pat Hawkins wanted the direction of the baseball diamond reversed, with home plate in the northeast corner of the green space.
Matakas said the Department of Public Services Director Tom Murray did not want the walking path winding through as many trees, which he said was a maintenance problem for DPS, and it wasn’t as visible and accessible for use. The new design has the walking trail beginning and ending at the northern parking lot.
Matakas said the current design lines up the entrances and exits with Russell, Euclid and Arlington streets.
“We felt it might be safer for people coming off those streets if they are directly driving from one of those entrance ramps,” Matakas said.
Matakas said the sidewalk was changed so it was lined up with the existing sidewalk at Keppen, and moved further away from Shenandoah.
Matakas said the most important change in the third iteration of the plans was the removal of the water retention basins and the use of two 24-inch underground pipes instead, which will run along the back of the property line, and connect to the north branch of Ecorse Creek.
“It will have a restrictor, by county law, as to how much water that can come out of it at any given time,” Matakas said. “Most of the time it is not an issue — probably only five or six times a year.”
Currently, 468 Allen Park children attend schools in the MelNAP District, Supt. Kimberly Soranno said.
The new project is contingent on the passage of a millage by voters during the August primary election.
City Clerk Michael Mizzi said three Allen Park precincts in the northern part of the city, which are part of the MelNAP school district, will vote on the millage, in addition to Melvindale residents. He said each of the three Allen Park precincts represent about 2,000 voters, or 6,000 northern Allen Park residents.
Mizzi said the last MelNAP school millage failed by about 125 votes.
Soranno said she hopes what the students and schools are achieving will encourage residents to pass the millage.
“The new school will add to the value of all the homes in there,” Matakas said. “I, for one, am supporting it.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)