(Source: MIRS.news, Published 11/17/2023) The surface parking lots between the Ottawa Building and the Hall of Justice in downtown Lansing would be transformed into park space, complete with an amphitheater, sculpture garden and possibly another memorial, under a concept the Michigan State Capitol Commission is exploring.
In advance of the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026, Commissioner John Bollman is working on plans to create a space that celebrates Michigan and its history while creating an attractive link that connects the Capitol, the Hall of Justice and the Michigan library.
“We’d like to create a pleasant place to come and relax and enjoy the day,” he said. “We have so many visitors who want to go to the Library of Michigan or the Hall of Justice or the Capitol and this would be a place to take those school groups or groups of visitors.”
“Park Michigan” is the working title of the concept that Bollman and former House Clerk Gary Randall came up with before Randall’s retirement.
Since then, Bollman has had some conceptual drawings made up and preliminary discussions with the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) and House Appropriations Chair Angela Witwer (D-Lansing).
No price tag has been attached to the plan. There’s talk about creating a public-private partnership, but that, too, hasn’t all been hashed out.
White pines would dot the park in recognition of the state tree. Smaller rock cliffs would be constructed in the northern part in honor of Pictured Rocks. A smaller waterfall would symbolize Tahquamenon Falls. Conceptually, there’d be a butterfly garden.
With fewer state employees returning to state offices and the parking lots sitting mostly vacant on regular work days, Bollman said repurposing the lots makes sense, as long as DTMB has the parking elsewhere to make up for the loss of spaces.
DTMB spokesperson Laura Wotruba confirmed that state officials had some preliminary discussions with the Capitol Commission earlier this year and they’re open to having more, but at this point “we’re still pretty early in that process.”
Likewise, Anthony said she likes the use of the space, but wants to make sure the state’s current and future parking needs would be addressed. In concept, however, Anthony is interested.
“If we’re sending all of our state employees to work from home, we need to be thinking about how we can better utilize that space,” she said.
Added, Witwer: “It’s a very interesting concept, but it’s just a concept at this point.”