Oakland County Parks highlights new projects and program expansions

By: Brendan Losinski | C&G Newspapers | Published February 12, 2024


OAKLAND COUNTY — Oakland County Parks is announcing several projects made possible through its $20 million Healthy Communities Park and Outdoor Recreation Investment Plan.

In 2022, OCP approved the plan, providing funding for Oakland County Parks to invest in local communities by creating sustainable parks and public spaces.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners and County Executive Dave Coulter approved $15 million for OCP from pandemic relief funds the county received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. Combined with a $5.2 million match from OCP, this provided the parks system with substantial funds to revitalize and enhance parks located in or servicing residents of communities most impacted by the pandemic.

During 2023, OCP developed agreements with local entities identified in the plan, conducted public engagement sessions to gather feedback from residents and introduced design and engineering plans. In some cases where needs were already clearly identified, improvements began immediately.

These projects, programs and other developments are highlighted in OCP’s 2023 Annual Report: Shaping Equitable Recreation with Community Partners, which can be viewed online at OaklandCountyParks.com.

One highlight from 2023 is Pontiac Oaks County Park, formerly Hawthorne Park in Pontiac, where a new fishing dock was constructed and new programming launched.

Other community investments in 2023 included the approval of $658,166 in grant funds to 11 communities as part of the Community Grant Program. These monies assist local municipalities with planning, preliminary engineering, design and construction costs for park improvements and trail projects. It also included an expansion of the Free Entry Day program providing increased access to health and wellness activities in the parks.

This allowed OCP to partner with Huron-Clinton Metroparks to offer free swim lessons at Waterford Oaks Wave Pool and to remove financial barriers to swim instruction in order to increase safe water recreation.

Lastly, OCP said the funds allowed them to expand participation in Welcoming Week with two events that highlighted immigrant inclusion in the community and provided free recreation opportunities through the Recreation Assistance Partnership Program, which serves 117,983 participants.