A five-year Farmington Hills parks and recreation master plan was approved earlier this year.

A five-year Farmington Hills parks and recreation master plan was approved earlier this year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Farmington Hills’ new parks and rec plan priorities include splash pad, Hawk, Costick Center

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published May 21, 2024


FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Hills resident Claudette Wellons recently spent part of her Tuesday morning at the Costick Center and said it is “excellent” that parks and recreation activities are funded.

She partook in water aerobics for “exercise and for fun.”

“My favorite part is the deep water, because it just feels better,” Wellons said. “I do regular aerobics, but deep water is better.”

For residents who enjoy parks and recreation facilities, a big part of the thanks goes to the master plan process.

A lot of thought, attention and detail go into identifying ways for residents to get the most out of parks and recreation amenities, with master plans helping to put some of the priorities into focus.

Farmington Hills’ most recent parks and recreation master plan was approved by City Council earlier this year, which was followed by approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The new master plan is set to run from 2024-2028.

One of the aspirations that Ellen Schnackel, who is the director of special services for Farmington Hills, cited is to analyze and understand the best usage for the Costick Center and The Hawk.

Walled Lake resident Cheryl Vanderbeek also paid a visit to the Costick center to spend some time in the pool.

“I’m not a Farmington Hills resident, but I come to the pool Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I love it and I hope it never goes away,” Vanderbeek said.

Madison Heights resident Mark Solomon also took some time to take advantage of amenities offered by the city, only his choice of activity was pickleball at The Hawk.

“It was nice,” said Solomon. “There’s so many more places opening up, and so I decided to come and check it out here today. … Both socially and for exercise, it’s really good.”

Farmington Hills resident Mark Erichsen estimated that he utilizes the track at The Hawk three or four times per week.

He said that it is “really convenient” to have amenities so close to home.

“I need to keep in shape,” Erichsen said. “I occasionally use this track. My wife (uses) the pool.”

According to Schnackel, master plans are required by the DNR.

A previous report from the city stated that the DNR provides $40 million in grants through a variety of different programs.

The parks located within Farmington Hills are Heritage Park, Founders Sports Park, William Grace Dog Park, Olde Towne Park, Harmon Oaks Park, Bond Field, Pioneer Park and Woodland Hills Park.

The Hawk and the Costick Activities Center are popular facilities in the city.

Last year, residents had the opportunity to provide feedback about the master plan in an online survey.

Getting feedback from residents can help municipalities shape master plans and develop goals.

“We had over 1,000 responses to the online survey, which is a really, really big number,” Schnackel said. “A lot of respondents felt like they’re hearing about our activities, but that we could increase how we’re communicating that through other platforms, including things like social media – not just mailing out a brochure or flier. … The major goal that came out of it was community relations and partnerships. We touch lots and lots of people in the community of all different ages and abilities and interests, and how we can look to expand on those relationships with community partners and maybe leverage them for some more benefits, not only through the city, but … through our residents and our guests.”

Taking a look at whether aging infrastructures should be repaired or replaced and making it easier for residents to navigate parks and facilities, including via “user-friendly documents,” are also areas of consideration.

Another highlight of the master plan is environmental awareness and preservation.

“This is something that’s a constant goal with special services, but we’ve earmarked it here as well, in the master plan, making sure that everything is environmentally-friendly, from whatever it might be, as simple as water bottle fillers in our parks and in our facilities, (and) other larger things as far as infrastructure, exploring solar panels, things like that,” Schnackel said. “And then also the preservation of green space everywhere that we can.”

Schnackel pointed out that the master plan is a planning document.

“It’s really looking at, what are the things that we’d like to see happen in some of these spaces and with these programs and activities, and then what’s realistic that we can possibly afford,” she said. “All that stuff gets put into this document, and then that gets sent off to get approved by the DNR, which it was approved. And now we work closely with our city administration, our City Council, and make plans over the next five years of this master plan process on what are the things we can try to get accomplished, and what are some things that … that’s outside of that five years that might lead into the next master plan.”

With it being a planning document, Schnackel said that she can’t give an exact dollar amount as to what the cost might be to implement goals in the master plan. However, she did share details about a potential major overhaul to the playground and splash pad at Heritage Park.

“This is a million-dollar-plus project, so it’s going to take some really careful planning on our part,” Schnackel said. “We think we know what we want to do out there; however, to get it funded, we want to go after some grant funding through the DNR to assist with that process. So it takes quite a bit of time to get all of that stuff laid out, bid out, planned out. But that’s, for example, one of the items in our action plan of the master plan, is an overhaul at Heritage Park to that playground and splash pad.”

Aside from grant funding, there are a variety of ways parks and recreation amenities can be paid for.

“There is a parks millage that does provide some funding … and then we have a really great cost-recovery model, and we do (that) through program charges, fees, ticket sales,” Schnackel said. “We’re funded several ways, and then some of the things with the Adults 50 And Better Division are funded through federal and local grants. It’s kind of a combination coming together.”

To learn more about the master plan, visit fhgov.com/parksandrecmasterplan.aspx.

“It’s fantastic that we have a planning document that helps us prioritize where some of those needs are and when funding is available, prioritize where some of that can go to enhance facilities and programs and parks we currently operate,” Schnackel said.