Neighborhood Services Committee shares update on key projects

Dog park, streetlights, rental ordinance discussed

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published February 21, 2024

 In August, Lahser Woods Park, 27577 Lahser Road, will be home to the city’s first-ever dog park.

In August, Lahser Woods Park, 27577 Lahser Road, will be home to the city’s first-ever dog park.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


SOUTHFIELD — The Southfield Neighborhood Services Committee meeting Feb. 15 included a recap of some major projects in the city.

Terry Fields, Southfield’s parks and recreation director, provided updates on a long-awaited dog park at Lahser Woods Park, adding that the City Council has noted that a dog park has been an ongoing ask for 15 years now.

Fields said the dog park was initially going to be 5 acres but that requests were made to scale it down. He said it is now proposed to be 1.5 acres for small dogs and 1.5 acres for larger dogs, with a 40-car gravel parking lot, including three paved Americans with Disabilities Act parking spots.

“One of the reasons we would do a gravel parking lot is because this is our first time around with a dog park in the city of Southfield,” she said. “And so there could be potential of, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a lot of people,’ and we’d need to redo the parking lot. So, we did not want to put asphalt down.”

She explained that the dog park would also include a fenced-in area with a key fob system, which owners would receive after registering by submitting vaccination information and their dog license. Fields added that there would probably be some kind of training video or series on dog park conduct that owners would have to watch to obtain their key fob.

According to Fields, phase one of the dog park is scheduled to be completed this August.

That phase is set to cost around $493,000 and will consist of the 3-acre dog park, the 40-car gravel parking lot and a sidewalk into the dog park. Steve Griffith, Southfield’s park services superintendent, explained that phase two would cost roughly $531,000 and would include the expansion and paving of the parking lot to fit 70 cars, a bioswale to retain some of the water, additional lighting and new curb cuts.

Fields stated that phase two is optional.

“We would have to live with phase one and see how a 40-car parking lot worked for us,” Fields said.

Some of the funding for the dog park comes from a $100,000 grant from the Oakland County Parks and Parks Recreation Department.

Southfield City Administrator Fred Zorn touched briefly on streetlight improvements throughout the city before the topic was tabled.

“There’s been a huge amount of work done on (special assessment) districts. I will share with you there’s also deficiencies in state statute — for example, the light bulb and SAD. The way the law actually is right now, we need to go out and reexamine these SADs, because what happens when people say ‘no’? And we’ve looked at strategies from Westland, Garden City, Taylor, what other cities have done for street lighting. Our street lighting use is very different. The west end of the city is almost nonexistent.”

According to the city’s website, an SAD “describes a method of financing public improvements by distributing the cost of a project over those property owners who will reap a direct benefit.” Projects funded by SAD typically include sanitary sewers, storm drains, water mains, road paving, dust control, sidewalk construction and street lighting. An SAD project may be initiated by a resolution by City Council or at the request of a property owner whose property would be included in the district to be assessed; it can be initiated by a petition, if enough signatures are gathered.

During the meeting, City Council member Coretta Houge discussed an April 2023 ordinance change that amended the city’s rules on rental property by changing the definitions, and registration of owners and premises sections.

“We get a lot of complaints about people having parties, because a lot of these homes weren’t registered,” she said. “And we didn’t even have the ordinance to make them register for those Airbnbs and Vrbo, so we just wanted to get control over it. And this was a way to make the homeowners more accountable as well. So, the key to that was making them register. We know that’s still a problem, but at least we have an ordinance behind it.”

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