Reconstruction of athletic fields at Trenton High School • Photo by Dave Gorgon

Site is a resource for economic development in the region


The Riverview Land Preserve has transformed from a ski resort in the early 1960s to a modern day Land Preserve and regional resource for Southeast Michigan. 

For 52 years, the facility has been used by thousands of residents, contractors, developers, trash haulers, local businesses and employees who work and serve in different industries and communities.

In times of crisis, RLP has provided emergency disposal services for surrounding cities and townships. During major floods and storm events and the closure of commercial and industrial buildings, officials have expanded land preserve hours of operation or discounted rates to help.

RLP also has been a partner in new infrastructure and business developments across many Downriver communities, providing disposal services to support economic development.

“It’s a valuable resource to companies like us,” said Rick Cox, superintendent and project manager for Compeau Brothers. “The land preserve is a resource of economic development to many contractors, I believe.”

Compeau Brothers is an excavating and site utility contractor that performs underground earth work for water mains, water service, storm water work and sanitary work. The company performs work for mostly developers and municipalities, including the city of Riverview.

Compeau recently contributed to the parking lot for the land preserve and the redo of the ring road at the golf practice facility, has worked to convert a former Southgate auto dealership on Fort Street to a storage facility and is currently working on a Trenton schools project at the high school, elementary schools and maintenance building.

Land developers, construction, demolition and excavating companies and builders focus on keeping costs down before placing project bids. One of the biggest cost factors is the disposal of materials such as excavating soils, construction, demolition and road construction waste materials – all of which require a final destination: a landfill.

Being able to use RLP is “a major resource for us during the bidding process and the building process,” Cox said. “It assists us in getting work.”

Clean dirt from the school projects is used as cover material, over the daily intake at the Land Preserve, along with other material from construction work.

“The dirt had to go somewhere,” Cox said. “It’s school property and we know it’s clean. Riverview had us test it, which is a requirement for them. It benefits both parties.”

Disposal costs play an intricate role in the economics of a project. When creating a budget for a project, disposal costs determine the length of time for project completion and how quick phases of a project can be completed.

Like Cox, Jason Cooper, project manager of DA Contracting, is in regular contact with Jeff Kugelman, sales and marketing manager for the land preserve. Most recently, DA was able to facilitate the disposal of materials from a contracting job in Woodhaven.

“I told Jeff we were working hand in hand with the city of Woodhaven,” Cooper said. “We needed some help. Jeff was able to accommodate us. I facilitated the removal of the items off site. We were on a construction schedule that needed to be facilitated in a timely manner. They were able to go the extra mile, plus the convenience and proximity to the work…

“We were able to get in and out of there and continue our steady flow of work. It was a very good experience in every way.”

The land preserve is “100 percent” a resource for economic development in the region, Cooper said. “They’re very competitive in every way for what they provide and what they offer. Everybody at the landfill is great to work with when we stop by. Everything is professional. They do whatever they can to help with your goals. Between the communication and making the whole thing accommodating, they lived up to everything they said they would do.”

Kugelman, a Brownstown Township resident, said he views the land preserve in a different light now than when he started working at RLP just over a year ago.

“The Riverview Land Preserve is a positive thing for all of us that are Downriver residents,” he said. “We have been part of economic development Downriver really since we opened in 1968.”

Pointing to the use of skiing on Riverview Highlands, golfing and even recycled items at homes that are delivered to the land preserve, Kugelman said: “Of all the businesses we all use, when you think of a resource in Wayne County that you and I have used or will use in the near future, what comes to mind?” The first answer that came to his mind is Detroit Metro Airport.

“The disposal is right here; it will attract more growth,” Kugelman said. “The bottom line is that RLP assists in economic growth by supporting commerce and new business to communities and their residents.

“The city of Trenton, when you look at what they’re doing with their high school renovation… we didn’t pass the millage, but we took dirt and construction debris from the football field, baseball diamond, and softball diamond. The renovations to the athletics fields look good.”

Kugelman said the goal is to be involved in connections to community partnerships that lead to economic development and growth in local communities.

“What value does RLP bring?” he said. “We’re a great regional resource. We’re involved in a lot of Downriver communities … We support the growth for local economies”.

Examples of development involving the Riverview Land Preserve 

Since 1968, the Riverview Land Preserve has been transformed into a regional resource by providing disposal support services for Downriver communities.

Here are some examples of projects that have contributed to the economic development of the region. Each project relied on the land preserve.

● Riverview Towers, a 12-story, 171-unit senior living community, was completed in 1977. RLP accepted excavated soil materials, construction and demolition debris from the site.

● Piramal Enterprises Limited expanded a new wing to the Ash Stevens facility in Riverview. The land preserve accepted construction and demolition debris from the site.

● The Park Promenade in Woodhaven began development in June 2020 and will be adding businesses such as Chick Fil-A and a health and wellness facility, plus a park. The land preserve is working with the developer for disposal of construction and demolition debris.

● The restaurant/bar Bubba’s 33 opened this year on Eureka Road in Taylor. RLP accepted excavated soil materials and construction and demolition debris from the site.

● In May 2019, major flooding took place in the Downriver communities of Allen Park, Southgate and Lincoln Park. RLP provided discounted disposal rates,expanded hours of operation and accepted disposal of ruined items, such as furniture, household items and carpet.

● Bridging North America began the initial construction phase of the Gordie Howe Bridge project in December 2019. RLP accepted native soil materials, construction and demolition debris and recycled wood materials from the site.

● A 2018 bond provided upgrades for the Trenton Public Schools, including two elementary schools, a middle school and Trenton High School. RLP accepted excavated soil, construction and demolition debris and road materials for the project, which will continue into 2021.

● Due to proximity and favorable disposal rates at RLP, the city of Southgate was able to attract the first Sonic fast-food restaurant in Michigan in 2017. RLP accepted construction and demolition debris and excavated soil materials from the site.

● In 2016, a new Meijer store and gas station were built in Flat Rock. RLP accepted construction, demolition debris, excavated soils and recycled wood materials.

● In the 2000s, the Woodhaven Gateway Center added retailers such as Kohl’s, Lowes, LA Fitness and Buffalo Wild Wings. RLP accepted disposal of construction and demolition debris during the development.

● The Brownstown Business Center (1999) was developed with more than five million square feet of industrial warehousing space to provide storage for tenants such as Walmart and Amazon. RLP accepted construction, demolition debris and excavated soil from the site.

— Dave Gorgon