Oakland County officials announced on Wednesday a collaboration with local communities to invest more than $20 million in parks and outdoor recreation facilities.
Officials made the announcement at Beech Woods Park in Southfield, but it also affects parks and facilities in Pontiac, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Royal Oak Township and Hazel Park.
“As a former County Commissioner of Oakland and Mayor of Ferndale, I have been passionate over the years about the need to strengthen our parks system in the southern county,” said County Executive Dave Coulter. “These projects will add or improve 10 parks in the south county, providing more equitable access to parks in our most densely populated areas, many of which are within walking distance of public transit.”
Oakland County Parks and Recreation is set to upgrade three local parks and then assume management responsibilities.
A portion of Beech Woods Park in Southfield and a portion of Shepherd Park in Oak Park, Hawthorne Park in Pontiac, and Ambassador Park in Madison Heights will be part of the county’s park system, which will account for several million dollars in county spending. , said Chris Ward, director of parks and recreation for the county.
Oakland County Parks is also partnering with the Hazel Park Community Center to develop joint recreation program facilities.
Investments in local parks that remain under local control will total over $2.5 million.
Hazel Park will receive $400,000 for Green Acres park improvements and $300,000 for the development of recreational facilities.
“Oakland County’s investment in Hazel Park’s parks and recreation facilities is truly a game-changer for our community,” Hazel Park City Manager Ed Klobucher said in a statement. “Our city will now be able to update badly outdated facilities and equipment to provide significantly improved recreation services for Hazel Park and our neighboring communities.”
At Shepherd Park in Oak Park, improvements include upgraded trails and walking paths, a universally accessible nature-themed playground, fitness equipment, a clubhouse/gathering space facilities and restoration of natural resources for approximately $500,000.
Oak Park City Manager Erik Tungate said in a statement that the city has long been moving towards partnering with the county to improve parks and recreation for residents.
“This Oakland County investment comes at a time when we are working to elevate our public spaces in Oak Park,” Tungate said. “This partnership will allow us to take our recreational opportunities to new heights while preserving the history of David Shepherd Park.”
Ambassador Park in Madison Heights is also in line for upgrades.
Common types of improvements in local parks include everything from pavilions and gathering spaces and sports fields and fields to walking and hiking trails, outdoor exercise equipment and accessible playgrounds.
The money for county and local parks improvements comes from $15 million of the $244 million share of federal COVID relief funds Oakland County secured, approved by the county board, as well as $5.2 million in matching grants through the County Parks and Recreation Commission.
Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Woodward (D-Royal Oak) said in a statement that it has long been a priority to increase “access in our most populated areas to parks and to our county’s recreational opportunities…”
The major park improvements also bring one-time investments totaling nearly $11 million to existing county parks in Southfield (Catalpa Oaks), Madison Heights (Red Oaks), Waterford (Waterford Oaks) and Lyon (Lyon Oaks).
“The public has turned to parks and trails in record numbers during the pandemic to enjoy the positive impacts that spending time outdoors can have on our physical and mental well-being,” said the president of the County Parks and Recreation Commission, Gary McGillivray, in a statement, adding the parks commission. appreciated Coulter’s support in the major investment. “It will pay dividends for generations to come.”