Sunrise Park

Sunrise Park is a 0.31-acre waterfront property owned by Grosse Ile Township.  The park is situated at the eastern end of Grosse Ile Parkway at East River Road.  The property was acquired from Wayne County in 2011 for the purpose of creating a waterfront park and is one of the very few places on Grosse Ile offering public access to the water.   The popularity of the park has grown steadily over the years. Kayakers, sunbathers, dog walkers, picnickers, bicyclists, joggers, birders, sightseers, photographers, and people who just want to relax and enjoy nature can often be found here.

Sunrise Park Redbud Trees.jpg

Sunrise Park overlooks the Detroit River and several islands, including Stoney Island. The small sandy area is the only public beach on Grosse Ile. It is one of the most desirable kayak launch points on the entire Detroit River due to its soft launch and easy access to the uninhabited islands in the river.   Visitors can still find the large stone slabs that were part of the Chicago & Canada Southern railroad bridge that linked Grosse Ile to Stoney Island.  Parking is available behind the Grosse Ile Historical Society which is situated directly across East River Road.   

Sunrise Park - kayaks on the beach.jpg

The park was constructed mostly by volunteer labor and improvements continue to be made. Over the past several years, in cooperation with the Township administration and engineers, Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy has invested more than $70,000 and hundreds of person-hours making improvements to Sunrise Park.  

Some of these improvements include:

  • Rosebud trees and landscaping.

  • Retaining walls on both the North and South side of the stairway and the necessary landscaping around the walls. 

  • Kayak slide to make it easier to get boats down and up the stairway.

  • Spotting Scope

  • Sandbags to reduce the erosion impact of the high-water levels.

  • Memorials to Dr. Bruce Jones and John Jackson. 

  • Interpretive Signage.

  • Multiple clean-up workdays.

  • A brick patio and bench (recently removed due to high water).

  • A sanitary sewer line and a water line were installed at the upper level of the park in preparation for significant improvements to this area.

Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy - Sunrise Park Next Phase Improvement Proposal.

Sunrise Park is a true gem. Usage by Grosse Ile residents has grown steadily over the years.  However, some residents find it difficult or impossible to use the park because they cannot navigate the stairway, the park lacks basic sanitary facilities, and some areas of the park can be precarious for unsupervised children and adults unsteady on their feet. Knowing how important water access is to island residents for recreation and enjoying the natural beauty surrounding Grosse Ile, GINLC has developed a plan to address these shortcomings by making the park safer, accessible to all, and family friendly.

Sunrise Park observation platform and restroom concept drawing.JPG

Safer: Construct an observation platform with protective railings over the existing limestone bridge trestle, creating a safe viewing platform with unobstructed views of the river, Stoney Island, and on a clear day downtown Detroit. The observation platform will prevent island youths from using the trestle as a diving platform.

Accessible: Construct an ORAR (Outdoor Recreation Access Route), which is an ADA compliant walkway, from the top of the existing stairway to the observation platform, making the park accessible to those who have trouble navigating the stairs, use a walker, are wheelchair bound, or push a baby stroller.

Viewing Platform and pavilion concept drawing

Family Friendly: Construct a patio west of the observation platform where families can gather for picnics, sit in the shade, and meet their neighbors. Early morning yoga groups could use the area to exercise and greet the sunrise. Provide basic sanitary facilities: water fountain, doggie fountain, foot wash and an ADA compliant restroom with baby changing station.

Sunrise Park Planview Concept drawing.JPG

ADA compliant walkway and platform concept drawing

Sunrise Park observation platform and restroom dimensions drawing.JPG

Aesthetically Pleasing: These concept images show a basic design. It is our intent to include additional enhancements to make it a real show piece. We plan to have an architect conduct the detailed design work. As with past GINLC work at the park, the Township engineer will be involved in every phase of the design. GINLC is fortunate to have very generous donors that make it possible for the Conservancy to pay for at least the basic design, but we welcome participation from other organizations, businesses, families, and individuals to suggest and fund enhancements. The more people involved, the better. 

We have developed a list of frequently asked questions about this proposal. Click here to read them.

Island residents deserve a waterfront park that meets their needs and allows them to enjoy the natural beauty of Grosse Ile. The Community Recreation Commission voted in support of these improvements in March 2022, but additional approvals are yet to be obtained. Help make these park improvements a reality by contacting members of the Township Board of Trustees and communicating your support for this GINLC-funded Sunrise Park Improvements. Township Board Member contact information can be found at grosseile.com.

If you have questions, comments or want to learn how to help, please contact Project Manager, Peter Kantz at info@ginlc.org.

Sunrise Park History

  • In 2011 Grosse Ile Township acquired, from Wayne County, the waterfront property at the eastern end of Grosse Ile Parkway for the purpose of creating a waterfront park.  

  • On November 5, 2011, a community event, attended by approximately one hundred Grosse Ile residents, was held to clean-up the area which most recently had been used as a fishing camp. Prior uses of the property ranged from a private residence, boat livery and bridge head for the railway that ran from Grosse Ile to Stoney Island.

  • Public input sessions were held on December 15, 2011, and January 26, 2012, to receive the public’s suggestions on how to develop the park.  

  • Since access to the area was steep and hazardous, the area was closed to the public until Ethan Ames completed his Eagle Scout project in the Summer of 2012, building a stairway from East River to the beach. The names of several donors are displayed on the risers.

  • A clean-up event, attended by dozens of Grosse Ile residents, was held on September 22, 2012. 

  • A Grand Opening Ceremony was held on October 22, 2012, opening the park to the public. 

  • In 2013, GINLC became actively involved in developing the park, planting native vegetation to stabilize the slope and Redbud trees to add color. Beginning in 2013 stewardship activities were conducted at the park on an ongoing basis to mow the grass, remove dead trees, leaves, litter, seaweed, and other debris.

  • In 2014 GINLC built a brick patio and installed a bench at the park.

Sunrise Park - Spotting Scope.jpg
  • In 2015, GINLC installed a spotting scope and educational signage at the park. As a tribute to Dr. Bruce Jones, a founding member of GINLC, a memorial plaque was placed in the park and dedicated in August 2015.

  • In February of 2017, the Township commissioned Wade Trim to develop a concept plan for the park.

  • In July of 2017 GINLC began implementing the concept plan by building a kayak ramp on the south side of the stairway. (See kayak ramp in action)

  • In March of 2018 GINLC, in cooperation with the Township administration and engineers, paid to have a retaining wall constructed north of the stairway (Compeau Brothers Excavating).

  • In April of 2018 GINLC landscaped the area behind the retaining wall with topsoil, bushes, and grass.

  • In December of 2018 GINLC, in cooperation with the Township administration and engineer, paid to have a retaining wall constructed south of the stairway (Compeau Brothers Excavating).

  • In December of 2018 and the Spring of 2019 GINLC landscaped the area behind the south retaining wall with topsoil, bushes, and grass.

compeau building south wall.jpg
landscaping north wall.jpg
John Jackson Rock.jpg
  • In October of 2020 GINLC, in cooperation with the Township administration and engineers, paid to have a sanitary sewer line and a water line installed at the upper level of the park in preparation for significant improvements to this area. These future improvements are made possible by a generous donation to GINLC from John C. Jackson and are dependent on Township Board approval.