Rochester to update parks, recreation master plan

City hires McKenna Associates for the task

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published August 23, 2023

 The city of Rochester plans to update its parks and recreation master plan, which City Manager Nik Banda said will focus largely on what to do with Elizabeth Park, among other things.

The city of Rochester plans to update its parks and recreation master plan, which City Manager Nik Banda said will focus largely on what to do with Elizabeth Park, among other things.

Photo by Mary Beth Almond


ROCHESTER — The city of Rochester is updating its parks and recreation master plan to help shape goals, objectives and potential projects for the next five years.

The city’s current parks and recreation master plan — which provided a vision for the city’s parks and recreation facilities, operations, maintenance, and enhancements from 2019 to 2023 — will expire this December.

The new plan, city officials said, will serve as a playbook for community building as it relates to parks and recreation over the next five years and be instrumental in helping the city secure potential recreation grant funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and other agencies and foundations.

Initially, McKenna & Associates — the firm which provided the last parks and recreation master plan — had proposed to handle the task for $19,500.

“That would include public engagement workshops, creating a website with surveys online for resident feedback, consolidating all the necessary information to put into that report, updating site plans and all that good stuff,” DPW Director Alek Mizikar said.

However, many on council had concerns about the pricing.

“It seems like the cost has gone up much higher than inflation,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Nancy Salvia. “When we did this 4.5 years ago, it was $6,200 — so that’s more than triple the cost. … It just seems like the cost is exorbitant on this.”

City Manager Nik Banda said city administrators directed McKenna to “tighten the screws down” on the plan that was done five years ago to keep the cost as low as possible, so the previous plan was way “underpriced” because it didn’t really include any community engagement or surveys.

“This is a fair proposal for what we are getting for this. We went over it every step of the way,” Banda said. “I’m glad to go out, but I think we are going to be shocked at how much a real plan costs.”

On July 24, the Rochester City Council unanimously passed a motion by Salvia to table the action and direct administration “to come back with a sharper pencil.”

On Aug. 14, Banda said, McKenna agreed to have city staff assist in data gathering and facilitating the community outreach portion of the plan, which lowered the cost.

On Aug. 14, the City Council unanimously agreed to hire McKenna Associates to handle the task at a fee of $15,500.

“This to me seems like a good win-win resolution here. They’ve lowered the cost. We are engaging city staff. They’re learning. I like the timeline on this. … I think it’s an exciting opportunity for the community and all of the council to put some input on this,” said Salvia.

One of the strengths of working with McKenna Associates, Mizikar said, is they are already working with the city on a daily basis with all the development in town.

“They know our city, and they know the people in town. They have a better grasp on our infrastructure,” he said.

This time around, Banda said, the plan will largely focus on Elizabeth Park, which is located on Elizabeth Street, north of Second Street, across from the Royal Park Hotel. The park currently features a pocket of open space with benches.

“I think the major focus — and time well spent — is going to be on Elizabeth Park. We’re lost on Elizabeth Park. We had one idea, we had funding, and people changed their mind,” Banda said.

The plan will also include the pocket parks within the downtown, which were not in the last plan, and will highlight the many organizations the city partners with on parks and recreation projects — including the City Beautiful Committee, the Tree Committee, Paint Creek Trail Association, the Clinton River Watershed, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments — and others in the hopes of being able to secure more grants, among other things.

“Comprehensively, we want to put it all in one spot … so that we have a complete parks and recreation master plan, not just a piece of paper,” Banda said.

The tentative timeline will include a public engagement workshop and stakeholder feedback session in late August or September, and a presentation of a draft report to the Planning Commission in September, with a vote on the revised plan in October, followed by a 30-day public review period.

City Council will consider approving the new plan in December.

For more information, call (248) 651-5165.