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Posted on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 10 a.m.

Ann Arbor's Gallup Park canoe livery to get $563K makeover this year

By Ryan J. Stanton


City of Ann Arbor

Major improvements at the Gallup Park canoe livery are coming after the Ann Arbor City Council this week approved a $512,180 contract with Construction Solutions Inc.

The improvements include barrier-free paths leading to new barrier-free docks and fishing facilities, and expansion and modification of the patio area to create barrier-free outdoor seating.

Other elements of the project include new sliding glass doors from the livery's meeting room to allow for events and camps to take advantage of scenic riverfront views and fresh air, and a redesign of the park entryway so there is separation between the service drive and the pedestrian pathway. Park officials believe that will increase safety for park users.


The Gallup Park canoe livery can be seen off in the distance in this view from the Huron River in June 2011.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The project is funded in part by a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, with matching funds coming from the city's parks millage, which has a $3.25 million fund balance.

The city has budgeted a 10 percent construction contingency totaling $51,218 to cover potential contract change orders, pushing the project budget up to $563,398.

The first phase of work is expected to start soon and continue until Memorial Day in late May, with work resuming after Labor Day in early September. If any work takes place between May 24 and Sept. 2, it must not disturb the livery operations, according to project specifications from the city.

The project is expected to be done by mid-November.

Amy Kuras, a landscape architect for the parks department, said Gallup Park, located off Fuller Road near Huron Parkway along the Huron River, is one of the most popular destinations in Washtenaw County, and the livery there is the largest in the state of Michigan.

The facility serves residents and visitors as a destination for boating, fishing and environmental education, including camps and programs for youths and adults.

Kuras said the facility is rented constantly throughout the warmer months and inoperable windows make the facility hot and stuffy. And much of the facility is not barrier free.

"The docks are not accessible, and the entrances to the facility and restrooms do not meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act," she wrote in a memo to council. "These issues would be resolved as a result of the construction project."

When the livery was designed, the amount and type of use the park receives today was not envisioned, Kuras said.

The rise in interest in kayaking, the success of the coffee shop, heavy use of the play area, and the popularity of the paths that intersect at the livery has made the operation challenging, she said.

The potential for conflicts between users has increased as the number of vans used to transport canoeists and kayakers up river has tripled, she said.

The path that serves as the main access to the livery and is part of the Border-to-Border Trail along the Huron River is regularly filled with walkers, bicyclists, runners and children.

Additionally, the park playground is located next to the livery, where the vans back up to turn around, creating a potential safety hazard, Kuras said.

The city's 2011-2015 Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan identifies a need for many of the improvements that will be accomplished by the project.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

So, let me guess on this one. This is not due to the law suit? I am of the firm belief that everyone needs a bell on their bicycles. This is the only way to avoid collision. Unless you have a blow horn. Those do wonders don't they?

Richard Carter

Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

Doesn't seem to have a lot to do with bicycle paths.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

Speaking of barrier-free, I wish they would install something for seniors and the handicapped to hang onto when getting in and out of canoes.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

They need to start mowing the grass in Gallup Park. For the last couple years, the grass is allowed to grow 8-12" before being cut, and weeds along parts of the paths are out of control most of the season. Poison ivy is rampant in the park and along the walking/running paths and needs to be cleared out. Basic maintenance has been lacking for several years and that should be the first priority. Also, cars are parking all summer on the grass near the main parking lot, because no one wants to go to the secondary lots. Either enlarge the main lot or enforce the rules of no parking on the grass. More people are using the park in recent years but there is less control of vehicles, and increased trash and graffiti.


Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

Actually if you see the poison ivy? Instruct those nasty cars parking on the lawn to park near or on the ivy. This way they are taught a very valuable lesson. Please don't park on the grass or the ivy. Crime is high when the park is extremely busy. I have heard of rangers telling people should have had your car locked up and valuables out of site.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

If you see poison ivy, you should probably call the parks department.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

@ zeeba, re: "You have to get a permit to go through the whitewater section? Even with your own boat? Are you serious?" The good news is, you're OK in your own boat. The bad news is that City-owned canoes are verboten. The "permit," or "certification," idea is just my current proposal to IMPROVE upon the City's blanket ban. But let's get one thing clear: There is currently NO WHITEWATER at the grandiosely-named "Argo Cascades," which were specifically designed to be a novice-friendly bypass around the Argo Dam. And the engineers seem to have been reasonably successful in building what they envisioned. Unfortunately, the City flipped out after seeing the results, and subsequently banned all livery-canoe traffic. To put the whole "whitewater" thing into perspective, the Huron River flows at an average rate of 850 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) in the early Spring. Local whitewater paddlers have to be content with these modest levels, but eagerly watch for higher-level floods that make the Delhi Rapids more fun to paddle. In mid-Summer/early Fall, the river runs at 200 CFS or so, and there are many stretches that are not navigable in those seasons. And the sight of renters dragging their boats is a common one. And then we have the "Cascades." The original proposal from the company, Recreational Engineering & Planning, was for these "Cascades" to flow at about 120-150 CFS (think Fleming Creek meandering through Radrick Farms GC) But we didn't contract with REP, and one of our frequent commenters here –– I think it was amlive –– posted that the actual flow that we ended up with is more like 60 CFS. And yet the City prohibits their livery canoes from using these proudly-named "Cascades." That's why I propose that the City get into the instruction business, so that they can actually use the bypass that they paid so much to build. And this new, proposed redo of the excellent Gallup location presents the perfect chance for the City to redeem itself.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Ok I'm not trolling here Is Gallup a drop off point or a starting point ? If it's a starting point where do you go with a kayak or canoe ? It doesn't seem you could go far past the dam at Dixboro

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

You have some options:


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

Plan for expanded instruction capacity –– a separate docking area adjacent to a buoy course for maneuvering instruction/practice/testing, for instance. Paddlers can pay for instruction which will bring them to a level of skill that the City is content with, so that they can be entered into a database of of paddlers allowed to use the "Argo Cascades" novice-canoe bypass, which the City got cold feet about using after having already paid for it. At this point, the City is prepared to have TWO separate liveries, one above, and one below, Argo Dam. And all because the livery business is an industry specifically designed (nationwide, not just here) to rent canoes to people who don't know how to paddle. Give people a chance to earn use of the "Cascades" (sorry, I can't take the name seriously, and have to put it in ironic quotes), and paddling classes will be booked in advance for years. Many added benefits would accompany this new policy, including reduced noise from people banging their paddles clumsily on their boats, and their boats clumsily on the rocks, and less disruption of fishers –– if I see three feet between a fly fisher and the bank, I slip though there without a splash to allow him/her to continue working a hole. Have a standard rental boat come through, and you can forget about those fish!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

@hmsp: This is an excellent creative idea! Without such a program, residents like me with kids really cannot rent at Argo and canoe down river to Gallup because of the city's absolute ban on canoeing down the Argo Cascades, and that is a bummer!


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

You have to get a permit to go through the whitewater section? Even with your own boat? Are you serious?


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

You have to get a permit to go through the whitewater section? Even with your own boat? Are you serious?

Bob Needham

Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

Wow, the largest livery in the state. I guess I'm not surprised!


Sun, Apr 7, 2013 : 4:20 a.m.

Won't catch me anywhere near a canoe or a boat. I like staying hi and dry.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

How to attract corporate HQ's to A2: One idea - Keep developing neat features like this.


Fri, Apr 5, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Well, that's pretty cool. Overdue but better late than never.