Lansing City Council Approves Demolition of Historic Scott Park Sunken Garden


Lansing City Council Approves Demolition of Historic Scott Park Sunken Garden

Lansing City Council Approves Demolition of Historic Scott Park Sunken Garden
Oct 06, 2016
Cassandra Nelson

Local advocacy group Preservation Lansing appears to have lost the fight to save Scott Park Sunken Garden from demolition to facilitate the construction of an electrical substation by the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL).

The battle began in February 2016, when the Lansing BWL proposed the removal of the historic sunken garden and dedicated city park for the new downtown substation. Despite opposition from citizens and advocacy groups, both the Lansing Parks Board and the Lansing Planning Board voted to approve the proposal in the spring of 2016. Preservation Lansing successfully lobbied the Lansing City Council’s Committee on Development and Planning to postpone their vote on granting a Special Land Use Permit to the project until the BWL provided additional information on the construction, timetable, and financing of the new substation. However, the committee ultimately agreed to accept the assertion by the Mayor’s office and BWL that the Scott Park Sunken Garden site was the only viable location for the substation. 

Preservation Lansing worked throughout the process to find alternative locations for the substation, researching and promoting two potential sites close to downtown and the existing BWL distribution system. Despite those efforts, on Monday, September 26, Lansing’s City Council voted to grant the Special Land Use Permit that would allow construction of the substation on the site of Scott Park Sunken Garden. After a public demonstration on the issue earlier that evening, and approximately two hours of public comment at the meeting, the council voted 7 to 1 in favor of the substation. BWL plans to initiate the relocation project in the spring of 2017, and estimates it will take two years to complete.  

Editor’s Note: The Scott Sunken Garden will continue to be listed in TCLF’s What’s Out There database as At-Risk until its demolition and relocation process begins. Even though the results of the recent City Council vote were disappointing, advocates for the garden continue to explore alternatives to the proposed project. If you are interested in knowing more, please contact Dale Schrader, the Vice President of Preservation Lansing, at  

Scott Sunken Garden, Lansing, MI - Photo courtesy of Sharon Burton