Historic Underground Drain Relocated

Staff | September 28, 2010

Construction crews working on the new Meijer store project at the old Moravian Hills Golf and Country Club in Clinton Township had an unusual obstacle to deal with — an underground storm sewer built 78 years ago.

The Strevel Heights Tile Drain was located under the old Moravian Hills Country Club clubhouse and had to be relocated to make way for the proposed new Meijer store. Condominiums and retail shops are also proposed for the development. The developer is the Moravian Hills Country Club, L.L.C.

Work crews from Salvatore Excavation Co., of Roseville, recently completed the 1/4-mile-long, 42-inch-diameter concrete bypass line and that paves the way for construction of the new Meijer store to be built on the old Moravian Hills golf course property on the west side of Groesbeck, south of Cass. The cost of relocating the Strevel Drain was $250,000.

"The Strevel Drain was established in 1928 and two years later a 42-inch concrete drain was constructed underground at a cost of $52,500, according to our records," Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony V. Marrocco said. "The big thing is the history behind the Strevel Heights Tile Drain, and the fact that it was an infrastructure improvement that had to be made for the Meijer store site."

Marrocco said that the Strevel Drain was built underground in preparation for a planned 239-home subdivision called Streval Heights Subdivision, according to county plat records. The subdivision was platted in 1924, but was never developed.

The drain, which is 19 feet to 24 feet below ground and continues to be a functional storm sewer, starts at Groesbeck and Cass, and travels south about 3/4-mile before it empties into the Clinton River west of Groesbeck and north of Harrington. The recently completed bypass line connects to the original 1929 storm sewer about 1,200 feet from the Clinton River. About 1,600 feet of the original drain will be abandoned.

In addition to 40 acres of drainage at the old Hillcrest Country Club property and an adjacent residential subdivision, the Strevel Heights Tile Drain also takes in storm water from the adjacent 14 acres served by the Cass Avenue West Lateral sewer and another storm line along Groesbeck, north of Cass.

In 1957, the original Hillcrest Country Club was inadvertently built over the Strevel Heights Tile Drain without the knowledge of the Drain Office. When Hillcrest was damaged by fire in 1970, Hillcrest owner Woodrow Woody asked Thomas S. Welsh, who was then the Macomb County drain commissioner, for permission to build the new country club over the Strevel Heights Tile Drain. Welsh consented on the condition that Hillcrest would be liable for drain repair costs if they were needed at that location. No repairs were ever needed. The club was later renamed Moravian Hills Golf and Country Club.

Two of the petitioners who were listed on the original petition for construction of the underground storm sewer filed on April 17, 1928, were the Hillcrest Golf Course and the Strevel Heights Land Co. Norman Strevel was listed as the president of the land company. Bert Engelbrecht was the county drain commissioner in 1929.

Marrocco said that research shows one other interesting note. When the Streval Heights Subdivision was platted in 1924, Groesbeck Highway was known as Evans Road.