Saline City Council designated Salt Springs Park as the city's 12th park at Monday's meeting.
Saline's newest park was founded after discovery that connects to the town's ancient natural features – salt springs.
City Councillor James Peters discovered the active spring while walking along a stretch of the 15-acre city-owned parcel along the eastern bank of the Saline River, north of the DNR fish ponds. Inspired by the discovery, Peters spearheaded a campaign to convert the property into an official city park that functions as a nature preserve and provides residents with some information about Saline's distant past.
Monday night, city council voted 7-0 to designate the land as a park and name it Salt Springs Park.
“If ever there was a parcel of land in Saline that deserved to be a park, this is it. This parcel of city property belongs to all Saline citizens. It will now be available for all to enjoy as a unique park dedicated to our local heritage. It will allow us to provide property stewardship of our natural salt springs, enjoy nature and reconnect with Saline's distant past,” Peters said.
Once the city finds grant money for minimal development, the land will be used as a nature preserve and a history walking trail. A trail will also allow the DPW to access sewer lines that travel underneath the property.
Councillor David Rhoads and Mayor Brian Marl credited Peters for his work to bring the park to reality.
“This is a great opportunity for the City of Saline. It's indicative of the City of Saline remaining aggressive on the Parks and Recreation front and it's a great way to celebrate our history – American military history, prominent explorers and native Americans,” Marl said. “We would not have advanced to this position we are at now without Council Member Peters and all his hard work. I'd also like to thank (Parks and Rec Director) Scruggs for her help and support.”
Rhoads said Peters' work should serve as an inspiration to anyone with an idea to improve the community.
“I would like to add my thanks to Council Member Peters, whose work on this showed that anything can happen. Things can move along and it doesn't take forever,” Rhoads said.
Several residents also spoke in favor of the park.
Former Mayor Pat Little called Salt Springs Park a wonderful opportunity for citizens to learn more about Saline's natural features and history – whether it's military history or native American history. He said creating a natural preserve will guarantee future generations that the land will be handled in a responsible way.
Sheila Bourgoin, a self-described amateur botanist, said she was amazed by the range of plants and birds on the property.
“It really is a treasure for everyone. Botanists say there may be very unusual plants because of the high mineral content,” Bourgoin said.
Jody Roberts, speaking on behalf of the Parks Commission, said Salt Springs Park is something “we can all be proud of.”
The Parks Commission, Saline Area Historic Society, Saline Historic District Commission, Saline Planning Commission, Saline River Greenway Alliance and Huron Valley Archaeological Society also supported the Salt Springs Park effort.