River Bends Park
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Shelby Township Historical Committee


On December 1,1944, the State Conservation Dept. bought 409 acres including Springhill Farm and it became the Utica-Rochester Recreation Area. The remaining 18 acres of the Springhill Farm, including the buildings, changed hands several times. Owners were Roman Halanski, William H. Jamens, and Arthur J. Hill. Hill was the owner when the house burned down in 1973.

The entire parcel was leased to the goverment in 1954. The army established and maintained a Nike Missle Site until 1964 when it was turned over to the National Guard. Ten years later the DNR regained control.

The buildings of Springhill Farm have long disappeared, except for a few foundations, sidewalk and several flower gardens.

In 1993 the DNR approved a reorginization of the 1290 acre Rochester-Utica Recreation Area. Under the proposed plan, the DNR has assigned 1,087 acres of the park to the following units of goverment:

1. Shelby Township-838.16 acres
2. Utica-21.35 acres
3. Rochester Hills-209.75 acres
4. Rochester-18.51 acres

There is a 200.7 acre parcel that has been retained by the DNR due to contamination in the vicinity of LDI and G&H landfills.

Shelby Township renamed the 838 acre site River Bends Park and has been running it under a lease program. The park runs along the Clinton River and includes much of the Clinton Kalamazoo Canal from Yates Cider Mill to the City of Utica.

River Bends now services the residents of Shelby Township. They provide two full time employees and from five to eight seasonal employees to perform these services.

Company and family picnics have increased rapidly. In 1993 there were 47 company and family picnics. In 1994 they increased to 54 picnics. They ranged in size from forty to fifteen hundered people attendind a picnic.

Much history remains in the park and a new Nature Center was built in 2000.

(From Wally Doebler's Summer Along The Clinton-1996)