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August 28, 2013

Oakland County celebrates Catalpa Oaks revitalization

By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer

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Oakland County celebrates Catalpa Oaks revitalization
Lynell Crew, of Southfield, pushes the kids on the new playground equipment during the Music, Movie and More! family celebration event on Aug. 9.
 

SOUTHFIELD — Dan Stencil, executive officer of Oakland County Parks, said Catalpa Oaks County Park in Southfield is like an oasis in the midst of metro Detroit.

“Twenty-five acres in south Oakland County is like 1,000 acres in northern Oakland County,” he said. “In terms of the value of having it in a highly urbanized area, this resource will provide much-needed recreation opportunities for those residents living in the highly populated part of the county.”

After completing the first phase of park upgrades, the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission held its public dedication Aug. 7, followed by its first free family event Aug. 10 to celebrate the new additions to the park.

“This was the first phase of development for the park and bringing much-needed restrooms, picnic tables and playscapes to the site,” Stencil said. “Previously, there were just Porta-Johns, and the level of activities was just soccer, baseball and other field sports being played on a daily basis.”

The space has a long history of being in ownership limbo, but officials wanted the park to play a major role in urban revitalization initiatives, he explained. 

From 1964-2007, Oakland County leased the property to Southfield. In 1978, the city opened the site as a public park, used by several communities and school districts in the area.

In the spring of 2007, the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission acquired the 24.96-acre property as its 12th park.

Stencil explained that the overall master plan includes approximately $5 million in upgrades. He said the current upgrades are projected to ring in at around $1 million.

Additional facilities now include two playgrounds; soccer, softball and baseball fields; restrooms; food and beverage amenities; a picnic shelter; and infrastructure improvements such as wheelchair access from the parking lot and a connector path to Greenfield Road, according to Stencil’s office.

Parks and Recreation commissioners, city leaders such as Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence and others were invited to see what the park now has to offer. Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash, who is also on the Parks Commission, was among the elected officials in attendance at the ceremony.

“I was always in support of this park. I was on the County Commission when they transferred it to the county,” Nash said. “It was always kind of just a plain place before, but they’ve really made it into a beautiful park.”

Stencil said the next phase of the development project will be to balance and drain the existing field sites and put in irrigation. At press time, there was no timeframe for the project, he said.

It is estimated that more than 50,000 people from 17 communities utilize the park annually.

Catalpa Oaks County Park is located at 27725 Greenfield Road in Southfield. For more information, visit www.DestinationOakland.com

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jessica Strachan at jstrachan@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1108.