by: Don A Griffin, Friends of the Detroit River
The Rivertown Business Association presented the Friends of the Detroit River (FDR) its Best Idea Award at its annual meeting. The award was a bronze replica of Rodin’s “The Thinker.”
The award for the Best Idea of 1999 was based upon the FDR idea of having four watersheds all celebrating and collaborating on projects and activities on the same day. The four watershed organizations established the annual event of RIVER DAY to take place the first Saturday in June.
The four watersheds are the Clinton River, Detroit River, Huron River and the Rouge River. Each has an organization that participates in activities designed to improve the quality of life of the people, plants and animals of southeast Michigan.
The Friends of the Detroit River presented a unique program of a river walk from Belle Isle to Hart Plaza. Stops along the way included two historic sites that were part of the under-ground railroad that slaves used in escaping to Canada. Other stops included parks where poets and musicians presented their original works to the participants. A tour of the U.S. Coast Guard base and ship was followed by a walk through Rivertown, the Renaissance Center and a membership rally at Hart Plaza. This year a similar walk took place to promote the development of greenways from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie.
The FDR was able to assist in launching a petition drive opposing the building of casinos on the Detroit River Waterfront. We want long greenways there, not more brick buildings blocking the way and the view. FDR will join several other organizations in the effort to keep the casinos off the Detroit riverfront. Governor John Engler and Mayor Dennis Archer have agreed to spend Michigan and Detroit money to put parks around the casinos if they are allowed to build casinos on the waterfront, so our tasks are formidable.