Donation funds accessible play area

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published February 13, 2018

ROCHESTER HILLS — A local family has donated $200,000 to launch the development of a universally accessible play area for the city’s newest park, Innovation Hills.

The planned play area — funded by a Moceri family donation — will provide a welcoming, comfortable and innovative environment for children and adults of all ages and abilities, officials said.

“Our family’s passion is to provide enjoyment for all children and adults with disabilities to encourage and empower them to smile, laugh, learn and play,” Dominic Moceri said in a statement.

The play area will also allow visitors to connect with nature in a more flexible way than traditional manufactured playground equipment, said city officials, and it will be integrated with natural materials such as logs, dirt, tree stumps, grassy hills, sand, natural bridges and streams.  

“This accessible park and sensory garden will provide innovative features for local families, and we are proud to be a part of that,” Moceri said. The gift will be matched by an additional $200,000 of budgeted city funds.

Innovation Hills Park, located off of Hamlin Road, east of Adams Road, contains over 100 acres of undeveloped woodlands, wetlands and prairie habitat initially purchased by the city in the 1990s. The Clinton River travels through the park, which also includes two small lakes.

Last year, city officials received a $60,000 donation from Chief Financial Credit Union for a water wall and a shelter.

A parking lot has been completed, and a former dirt utility trail in the park has been paved to serve as a main spine for future nature trails, thanks to a $1 million donation from Steve and Darlene Stolaruk on behalf of the Steve and Vivian Stolaruk Foundation.

Residents John and Mary Modetz made a financial contribution to the park to fund a waterfall construction near the park entrance. An installed sensory garden was funded by a $40,000 grant from Scotts Miracle-Gro.  

This spring, boardwalks will be built, allowing foot travel from the Clinton River through a wetland area to the sensory garden in a 1-mile loop, thanks to a $150,000 Michigan Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. During the same period, a permanent restroom will be constructed near the parking lot.

“From the beginning, Innovation Hills has been driven by the generous financial support of our residents, businesses and community,” Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said in a statement.

“We are thankful for families like the Moceris, who have both visionary leadership and generous hearts that are making this dream a reality,” Barnett said.  

Those interested in learning more about how to help provide long-term support for Innovation Hills Park can call Barnett at (248) 656-4664. To learn more about the park, visit www.rochesterhills.org/innovationhills.