The City of Saline Planning Commission and Saline City Council will consider creating “Salt Springs Park” along the Saline River on the south side of town.
The city-owned 12-acre parcel, located between the Saline River and the DNR fish ponds, south of the Waste Water Treatment Plant, is home to a functioning salt spring that was discovered by city council member Jim Peters last year.
Peters said the new park will bring attention to an overlooked but important section of Saline's history.
“The salt springs is where Saline gets its name. We tend to think of our history as Orange Risdon on up. But this park will be dedicated to the theme of our distant history – from Orange Risdon back, about 12,000 years,” Peters told council last week.
Peters said the salt springs attracted mammals and hunters to this area 12,000 years ago. Later on, the salt springs in the area attracted the Potawatomi and Ojibwa.
“They used the salt to preserve their food and to trade with neighboring tribes,” Peters said. “The French fur traders came in 1635 and they were interested because the salt was used to preserve their pelts.”
Peters said by the time Risdon arrived, Saline was already a settlement.
“The first settlement was down at the salt springs, not here up in town,” Peters said. “It was called Salt City back then. Orange Risdon took the name of the Saline River, which got its name from the spring, and named the town Saline.”
If Peters has his way the park will eventually include walking trails and non-motorized paths. He said there are opportunities for grants to develop the park.
“But you've got to be a park first, before you can apply for funding,” Peters said.
The park would connect Curtiss Park to the north and Wildness Park east.
The city's parks commission has recommended the city designate the land as a municipal park. According to the city charter, planning commission must review the plans before city council can designate a new park. Planning commission meets Wednesday night.