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Royal Oak

January 16, 2013

Parks and rec master plan seeks residential input

Highest hopes are for a pool and splash pad

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

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Macomb Township resident Lisa John, right, and Pleasant Ridge resident Alison Rodgers have been playing volleyball in Royal Oak’s adult league since 1996. The adult volleyball program is one of many that have seen success within the city over the years.

ROYAL OAK — A draft of the city’s parks and recreation master plan is available, and city officials are seeking input from residents, but they also warn that everything listed in the plan is not a guaranteed future action.

The master plan draft outlines $6,685,600 in hopeful upgrades to Royal Oak’s parks and recreation facilities from 2013-2018. Most of the upgrades would require grant funding.

“What the master plan is, is a wish list of a variety of things we want,” said Tod Gazetti, Royal Oak’s superintendent of recreation. “If a grant opportunity arises, we can apply for that grant. It helps us qualify for any state, local or federal grants.”

Gazetti explained that, without including the projects in the parks and recreation master plan, the department cannot apply for grants to fund the projects. Among the nearly $6.7 million in proposed projects are a $4 million pool in 2015 and a $484,000 splash pad at Grant Park in 2013. Both would require additional funding from grants that are not currently available.

“The only grant we got in the past five years was a private grant from Home Depot (for $10,000),” Gazetti said. “The grant opportunities aren’t as numerous as they were 10 years ago. Everybody has their own wish list. Our job is to put it all together.”

Stewart Meek, assistant to the city manager, said the residential input he’s received in the first week since the parks and recreation master plan was released has been generally positive.

“I’ve gotten about 10 or so responses and pretty much all of them have been positive, and all of them have been about the pool,” Meek said. “Most of what has been sent has been suggestions for it. If the pool happens, we’re far from it. A lot of things would need to happen. The City Commission hasn’t weighed in on it yet.”

Residents have until Feb. 3 to submit their input on the parks and recreation master plan draft to Meek via email at StewartM@ci.royal-oak.mi.us or by mail to 211 S. Williams St., Royal Oak, MI 48067.

The parks and recreation master plan draft is available for viewing in person at the Mahany-Meininger Senior Center, 3500 Marais; Salter Community Center, 1545 Lincoln Ave.; Royal Oak Public Library, 222 E. 11 Mile; or online at www.ci.royal-oak.mi.us/portal /departments/recreation/master-plan.

Most of the proposed improvements will be done with the continually limited staff.

“Parks and Forestry took their hit about four years ago,” Gazetti said, noting that there is one full-time Parks and Forestry employee and 15 seasonal parks maintenance people assisting that person. “Operationally, nothing will change from last year.”

Some of the items that aren’t as costly as a pool or splash pad include improvements to playgrounds, tennis courts, fields, bleachers, signage, an addition to the skate park at Memorial Park, a new soccer field at Upton Park and additional pavilions. Gazetti said 50-60 pavilion rentals for 2013 had already been booked by Jan. 10, mainly for reunions and graduation or birthday parties.

“We’re deficient in picnic or family pavilions. We only have four,” Gazetti said. “This is a wish list; this isn’t the things the city is going to do. We have to go through the exercise and the process to put the plan together.

“I’d like to think big and say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to have a pool.’ But I think some of the things like signs (are more fiscally feasible). I don’t think we’re out of this recession yet. You’ve got to crawl before you can run. The good news is we do have enough baseball fields and soccer fields.”

Once input is gathered from residents, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board could approve the parks and recreation master plan at its Feb. 7 meeting. The City Commission would then need to approve it before it is finalized and sent to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Chris Jackett at cjackett@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1110.