RACER Trust Honors Saginaw County, Mich., for Conversion of Former Riverfront Industrial Properties to County Park

Saginaw River Headwaters Rec Area Will Return 334 Acres to Passive Recreation and Open Space

OKLAHOMA CITY — RACER Trust today announced that Saginaw County, Mich., is the winner of a 2022 RACER’s Edge Award for creative reuse, in recognition of its ongoing redevelopment of former RACER Trust properties along the Saginaw River into the Saginaw River Headwaters Rec Area.

A businessman accepting an award from another and speaking at a podium

Brian Keenan-Lechel, Director of Saginaw County Parks and Recreation, left, and Elliott P. Laws, Administrative Trustee, RACER Trust.

The property, purchased by the state of Michigan in 2019, will be managed by the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. It is the first park to be purchased by the state and managed by a local parks department, and the first county park in the City of Saginaw. It is expected to open in the fall of 2022.

Elliott P. Laws, of EPLET, LLC, administrative trustee of RACER Trust, presented the RACER’s Edge Award to Brian Keenan-Lechel, Director of Saginaw County Parks and Recreation, at an awards reception in conjunction with the U.S. EPA’s National Brownfields Training Conference in Oklahoma City. The award recognizes creative reuse of a former RACER property.

“The location and characteristics of this property make it ideally suited for the type of usage envisioned by the many stakeholders whose engagement and drive made this transaction possible,” Mr. Laws said. “Communities increasingly are embracing the value of open space and passive recreation resources as a means of enhancing the quality of life and stimulating additional economic development activity nearby. We are pleased to know this property will be in good hands and a benefit to the community moving forward.”

“Saginaw County is pleased that the efforts of so many people resulted in the creation of a new community resource near downtown Saginaw that will be enjoyed by generations of people in the Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Carl Ruth, Chair of the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners. “The Saginaw River Headwaters Rec Area is a symbol of resilience and sustainability, made possible because a lot of people from varying backgrounds and perspectives came together and said, let’s do this.”

“Saginaw County Parks is thrilled with the opportunity to partner with the State of Michigan to restore a critical piece of the Saginaw Bay Watershed, bringing the property back into public ownership and accessibility,” Mr. Keenan-Lechel said. “This unique, natural area just minutes from Old Town and Downtown Saginaw will benefit recreational users and wildlife for generations to come. Years of dedicated planning are coming to fruition, and we look forward to celebrating the grand opening of Saginaw River Headwaters Rec Area with our community.”

(L-R): David Favero, Deputy Michigan Cleanup Manager, RACER Trust; Marc Miller, Director of Economic Development, Manistee (Mich.) Area Chamber of Commerce; Bruce Rasher, Redevelopment Manager, RACER Trust; Steven Black, Transaction & Operations Manager, RACER Trust;  Brian Keenan-Lechel, Director of Saginaw County Parks and Recreation; Elliott P. Laws, Administrative Trustee, RACER Trust.

About RACER Trust: RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust was created to clean up and position for redevelopment properties and other facilities owned by the former General Motors Corp. before its 2009 bankruptcy. When it was formed in 2011, RACER was one of the largest holders of industrial property in the United States and was the largest environmental response and remediation trust in U.S. history. Its initial property holdings were at 89 locations in 14 states, principally in the Midwest and Northeast. The Trust was created by a settlement agreement in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court between the U.S. Government, the 14 states where the former GM properties are located, and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which owns land adjoining one of the properties in Upstate New York. For more information, please visit our website: www.racertrust.org.

About Saginaw County Parks and Recreation: The Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission is a county-wide organization that operates six parks throughout Saginaw County. These parks provide over 880 acres of parkland, including 18 miles of hiking trails, two boat launches, four fishing access sites, a swimming beach, picnic shelters, and many diverse recreation programs. For more information, please visit www.saginawcounty.com.