The Brighton City Planning Commission got a look this week at the revised plan for the Mill Pond band shell and amphitheater.

The plan was revised after citizens at previous City Council, Downtown Development Authority and Planning Commission meetings were critical of the project. Most public criticism centered on the destruction of at least five trees that provide shade for the current gazebo area, which is where the future band shell will be located. A petition drive was initiated, with over 500 signatures gathered against the plan. While the removal of trees was the main complaint, some also criticized plans to construct concrete seating and a concrete floor for the amphitheater. Since then, city staff and DDA consultants have worked to address concerns expressed by the public and planning commissioners at their July meeting, the PC ultimately tabling the plan. The revised plan was presented at the August 15th DDA meeting and Monday’s Planning Commission meeting, with the DDA voting to approve it.

The planned improvements include replacing the existing gazebo with an updated band shell and stage, installing a concrete plaza and seating area, and landscaping. According to the city, altering the design will allow one oak tree to be saved. However, Beth Walker - who led the petition effort — said that, unlike the other trees, the oak tree doesn’t provide any shade, making saving that particular tree a moot point. The new plan includes planting large caliber shade trees, a grass hillside, and an enhanced stormwater basin. The plan also calls for a change in the accent color to blue on the band shell and plaza to match the water of the Mill Pond. Public seating will be slightly reduced with the new plan, but the angle of the band shell was altered to allow for easy viewing across the pond.

But despite the revised plan, opponents still have concerns. Joyce Powers, who established the annual Brighton Area Women’s History Roll of Honor, tells WHMI the project “is something the people don’t want,” adding, This doesn’t need to be a huge project; it can really be a simple thing.” Powers also says that the Mill Pond is right next to three “recognized Michigan historical sites” — the Old Town Hall, now the CoBach Center; Old Village Cemetery and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Powers says, in her words, “We need to show respect for the people who came before us and the people who will follow,” adding, "keep it simple, flexible, and tasteful.”

The full revised site plan will go to the Planning Commission in September for approval. People with questions or comments are asked to contact Brandon Skopek at (TT)