Located in Comstock Park, Mill Creek is a tributary of the Grand River that flows through Dwight Lydell Park. Over a century ago, in the late 1800s, concrete walls and armored banks were added to the creek in this area, channelizing it to support the State fish hatchery managed by Dwight Lydell in the area that is now the park. In 1946, the State donated these 39-acres to Kent County to be used as a park. Over the many decades, the concrete walls and armored banks deteriorated and eroded into the creek.
In 2017, Prein&Newhof began working with Kent County Parks to naturalize, stabilize, and improve Mill Creek as it flows through the park as part of a large, long-term transformation of the park. Prein&Newhof provided a natural channel design that included bio-engineered erosion control for the creek banks once the concrete and armored banks were removed. This new approach also incorporates a floodplain bench at the eastern end of the park to temporarily hold floodwaters following significant rain/snow events.
It was important to maintain the creek’s bankfull dimensions (size of the channel needed to convey lower flows) to keep the stream banks stable and minimize sediment transport. The approach to accomplish this was to create the proper stream and floodplain dimensions and to stabilize the soil behind the concrete channel linings and walls after removing them by using bioengineering techniques that include plantings. Construction began in August 2020 and was completed in June 2021.
In addition to restoring Mill Creek, this project also features a new elevated boardwalk, bridge, and an overlook from which to enjoy the natural beauty of the park. The pedestrian bridge over the creek leads to the Comstock Park Library parking lot, and the boardwalk connects the Lamoreaux Drive neighborhood with the Dwight Lydell Park parking lot.