By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – Local officials celebrated receiving a total of $4 million in federal Economic Development Initiative and Wayne County American Rescue Plan Act funds for fieldhouse and boat launch capital improvements.
On hand May 4 were U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-12th District), who initially spearheaded the project, along with her Chief of Staff Larissa Richardson; U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-13th District) and his wife, Shashi; Wayne County Commissioner Cara Clemente; Stephen Grady Muhammad, deputy chief of staff for Wayne County Executive Warren Evans; Mayor Wheeler Marsee; City Administrator Richard Ortiz and City Engineer Ray Parker of Hennessey Engineers.
The 2023 Congressional Consolidated Appropriations Act provided $2 million in community project funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, while Wayne County ARPA money provided an additional $2 for capital improvements.
The project will provide money for the Kessey Fieldhouse roof, parking lot, indoor turf playing fields, interior halls, concession areas, offices and the adjacent Rouge River boat launch.
The fieldhouse was hit hard economically during COVID-19, when large gatherings were prohibited. The facility is used for youth sports teams, senior events and social gatherings.
The indoor arenas support soccer and baseball training year-round, while the boat launch is a popular launch site for kayaking and other water sports.
The indoor sports fields are converted ice arenas, with physical building and climate control renovations needed. Expansion to create outdoor soccer fields are also planned.
It is hoped that the fieldhouse renovations will increase the facility’s utilization and will promote multi-generational healthy lifestyles and lead to more social interaction.
Among the items included in the project are replacement of the existing metal roof over the main field areas and the flat roof over the support areas, and parking lot repairs that will include replacement of concrete sections.
Docking for improved kayak launching is included, as is an 8-foot-wide, half-mile-long asphalt walking path with an 18-hole disc golf course.
In addition, the interior turf on the sports fields, which was refurbished material, will be replaced.
Work on bleacher space, locker rooms, training areas and office space are included, as are new sports accessories and equipment.
Climate control equipment, including air condition for both arenas — which were originally ice rinks — will also be included.