Lyndon Township and the entire Chelsea region got some good news last week when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that the Cunningham property, 155 acres of prime land located just east of Green Lake, had been donated to the State. The news officially ended the threat that surfaced more than four years ago when a developer requested a permit from the Township to turn the site into a gravel pit.
Citizens throughout Chelsea, Lyndon and surrounding townships rallied to oppose the plan, which would have threatened groundwater and natural areas surrounding the site and sent gravel trucks rumbling through downtown Chelsea. A group known as “Friends of Chelsea and Lyndon Township” formed to provide support to area officials as they dealt with the request. A series of public meetings was held, including one at the Washington Street Education Center that turned out over 600 attendees. “Deny the Mine” lawn signs were prevalent throughout the area. The “Friends” group served as a focal point to organize many scientists, lawyers, engineers and other experts who live in the area. The group filed a 60-page brief with the township that laid out detailed legal and technical arguments that could be used to deny the mine application.
The announcement last week was the culmination of years of negotiation between the State and the developer of the property. The deal allows the company to mine gravel at a site in the Island Lake Recreation Area, near Brighton. In exchange, the developer will reclaim an old, degraded site and return it in a form usable for recreation. The Cunningham property in Lyndon Township was turned over to the State as part of a gift of land from the developer.
Tim Eder, who served as chair of the Friends of Chelsea and Lyndon Township, said this is the best possible outcome. “This parcel is one of the most spectacular sites in the county if not all of southeast Michigan. It includes unique geologic features and one of the highest points in the county.”
The parcel links the Waterloo and Pinckney State Recreation areas to Park Lyndon in the Washtenaw County Parks system.
Eder said that the owner of the gravel company, Robert Thompson, deserves recognition for the outcome. “Mr. Thompson made a good business decision, but he also did what was best for our community. This move is in keeping with the legacy of philanthropic and charitable giving by Mr. Thompson and his family.”
Area residents will soon be able to access the parcel through the section of the Border-to-Border trail being constructed north of Chelsea. The section of trail currently under construction north of Chelsea will eventually cross M-52 near Green Lake and traverse the Cunningham tract.