Gallagher Park development needs volunteers

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published February 6, 2018

 Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Director Mindy Milos-Dale; Natural Areas Stewardship Manager Ben VanderWeide; and Alex Kriebel, natural areas stewardship technician, meet Feb. 2 at Gallagher Creek Park.

Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Director Mindy Milos-Dale; Natural Areas Stewardship Manager Ben VanderWeide; and Alex Kriebel, natural areas stewardship technician, meet Feb. 2 at Gallagher Creek Park.

Photo by Deb Jacques

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Township officials are asking residents to help assemble playground equipment in Gallagher Creek Park, located on Silverbell Road, east of Adams Road, this spring.

“We have been wanting to add facilities to that park for a while,” Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Director Mindy Milos-Dale said. “Gallagher Park is in the most densely populated area of the township.”

In addition to the playground equipment, the park will see a new parking lot, improved trails, restrooms and a picnic area. A new Silverbell Road sidewalk is planned from Adams Road, allowing visitors access to the park by foot or by bike.

The  playground will include a unique bank of swings, allowing parents and kids to swing together while facing each other.

“The whole thing will be nature-themed,” Milos-Dale said. “A balance beam will look like a fallen log, and a seesaw looking like a dragonfly wing. It will blend in well. We are also doing a big prairie restoration there.”    

The 15-acre Gallagher Creek Park is located at the headwaters of Gallagher Creek. The township aims to balance the protection of the unique natural area with the addition of the recreation facilities.

Oakland Township Natural Areas Stewardship Manager Ben VanderWeide said a prairie restoration effort began last year in the western section of the park. “This year we will do the eastern area,” he said.

The effort includes the removal of invasive species to allow native plants — like lady slipper, bottle gentian and Culver’s root — to grow. “These are all nice, native wet prairie plants,” VanderWeide said.

The area was surrounded by phragmites before a treatment schedule began to remove the invasive grass in 2014.

“We are making progress,” he said. “There were big patches of them when we started.”

Milos-Dale said 45 volunteers are needed for the new Gallagher Creek Park playground equipment installation, which will be done in one day at a date yet to be determined this spring or summer.

“The other facilities need to be done first,” she said of the new parking lot, picnic area and restrooms. “The playground is constructed last.”

The manufacturer creates a simple installation process, she said, so the material can be quickly assembled by teams of workers. “We save a lot of money with the community build,” she said.

The new $55,000 playground is being funded by the township parks and recreation millage, and the cost is 22 percent less if constructed by volunteers instead of contractors, she said.

A previous effort to install playground equipment at Bear Creek Park with volunteers was very successful, she said.

Volunteers ages 15 and older can email parksplanning@oaklandtownship.org to sign up.