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Royal Oak

Residents, clubs sought to step up and help 51 parks

April 3, 2013

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Allen Pruner is the most recent recipient of the Royal Oak Optimist of the Year award. Pruner presented a $2,510 check to Mayor Jim Ellison and Public Service Director Greg Rassel at the Feb. 4 Royal Oak City Commission Meeting. The Optimist Club is hoping other local organizations step up to help improve the parks that adorn their organization’s names.

ROYAL OAK — It’s about time people step up and help out their local parks.

That’s how many residents and city officials feel about the 51 parks within Royal Oak. Although some may be larger or smaller than the next, they all get some use and, hence, need some attention.

Enter Park Cleanup Weekend, ParkFest and the Adopt-A-Park program. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has been working with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to make the weekend of April 27-28 an invigorating one for many of the city’s parks.

“Its about promoting collaborations with the city, local organizations, neighborhoods, businesses and individuals to assist in the best park facilities and programs in the greater Detroit region,” said Alex Fike, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member, during a City Commission meeting last month. “It’s really creating a process for expanded benefit to our community.”

Park Cleanup Weekend is the aspect for which the city is seeking immediate residential and business support. It is a two-day effort to clean up the local parks across the city, picking up garbage, pulling weeds and generally making the parks safer and more presentable for public use.

“Everybody that lives near and around a park that wants to take ownership of a park can call our (Department of Public Services) at (248) 246-3300 and sign up for any park that they’re interested in cleaning up,” said Tod Gazetti, recreation director. “Along with that, we will supply the trash bags and we will work with the different groups to pick up the garbage on Monday morning.”

On top of the individuals, organizations and business groups helping clean up the parks that weekend, ParkFest will provide a fun, family atmosphere from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 27 at Memorial Park, on the northeast corner of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile. Food, drinks, live music, a disc jockey with karaoke, crafts, moonwalks and a large tent with seating will all be available.

“ParkFest is a partnership with Arts, Beats & Eats,” Fike said. “It’s a community engagement, a benefit for those who came out and participated in our Adopt-A-Park for a Day program.”

One of the reasons the parks need individual support is because the clubs and organizations whose names adorn the parks have been unable to take care of them, and budget cuts to city departments have left city employees unable to step up to the plate.

“Sometimes they have a park named for their club, but it’s beyond the scope of their ability,” Fike said. “Budget cuts have meant a policy of pretty much basic maintenance for our parks. It’s left a lot of opportunity for improvement.”

One a brighter note, the Optimist Club has donated $2,510 to the city to help improve their park at Rochester Road and Montrose Avenue. A check was presented to Mayor Jim Ellison and Public Service Director Greg Rassel by Optimist of the Year Allen Pruner at the Feb. 4 City Commission meeting.

“The Optimists challenge other Royal Oak service clubs to follow their lead and support the parks which bear their names,” said club President Jay Dunstan via email. “The Optimists will also be cleaning their park on April 27, which is Royal Oak Park Cleanup Day. We will also be re-staining and painting the park sign.”

Fike said, in order to help sustain the parks, the city is also allowing residents, neighborhood associations, community organizations and businesses to make monetary donations to specific aspects of a park, such as a tree, bench, gazebo or piece of playground equipment. The donation levels, which range from $350-$50,000, will earn the donors a sponsorship plaque at the site.

“If you have a loved one who passed away and you want to contribute a tree in their name to a park, you have an opportunity to do that and honor that person, as well as you know that you’re giving back to future generations to play on playground equipment or sit on a bench,” City Commissioner Mike Fournier said. “It just starts to open up the conversation, which is exactly what we need to do.”

For more information on Park Cleanup Day or the Adopt-A-Park program, including signing up to help out, call (248) 246-3300. For more on sponsorship opportunities, call (248) 246-3180. Visit for more information on both.

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