Bloomfield Hills Schools is in the review period for a recreation master plan. Once it is approved, they hope to expand the Johnson Nature Center.

Bloomfield Hills Schools is in the review period for a recreation master plan. Once it is approved, they hope to expand the Johnson Nature Center.

Photo provided by Bloomfield Hills Schools

Bloomfield Hills Schools drafts recreation plan on potential Johnson Nature Center growth

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 22, 2023


BLOOMFIELD HILLS —  With an opportunity to acquire land to grow the Johnson Nature Center, Bloomfield Hills Schools is building a draft recreation master plan and asking for the community’s input.

Leading up to a public hearing March 23, BHS gave a 30-day review period for the plan.

The sense of urgency for this master plan comes from an opportunity to improve the Johnson Nature Center.  On the northwest end of the Johnson Nature Center, there is a 3.76-acre parcel of land available for purchase at 3115 Franklin Road in Bloomfield Township. It is currently listed at $1.2 million.

In order to purchase this land, BHS is applying to the DNR Land Trust Fund Grant program, which is due by April 1. However, in order to be eligible for this grant, BHS needs a  DNR-approved five-year recreation plan.

In 2002, BHS received funding through this grant program to construct the current Nature Center Visitor Center. It is projected that $15 million-$20 million will be available in grant funds this year.

“Adding 4 acres to what is the nature center in this community will be a benefit not just for the students in Bloomfield and the residents of Bloomfield Township, but for the broader community as the nature center is open to anyone, regardless of their residency,” Alan Jaros, the director of Bowers School Farm and the Johnson Nature Center said.

The recreation master plan is intended to create an inventory of existing facilities and resources and set a detailed agenda for the next five years, including goals and objectives.

While this is an expedited process because of the opportunity to expand the nature center, this has been a project that they have been working on for years.

About a year ago, BHS sent out a survey asking the community about what they would like to see more of in terms of community recreation.

The recreation department provides services for many people in the community, including preschoolers, students and adults.

One of the sections of the draft plan includes an action program with goals and objectives.

Jaros said that the goals and objectives are to maintain what they already have, which is a fee-for-service program, meaning the community can choose to participate and pay a fee.

“Anybody that signs up for a program is (paying) out of pocket. The recreation department has to recoup any dollars we spend, and we do that through registrations and trading revenue through those programs,” Mike Cowdrey, the director of athletics, recreation and community services, said. “It’s different in a lot of different municipalities, because they receive tax dollars to support those programs, but that’s not the case here in Bloomfield Hills.”

Since Bloomfield Hills and Bloomfield Township do not provide public parks and recreation services, Bloomfield Hills Schools operates the recreational department through the Recreation-Community Services Division.

Following the current status of the 30-day review period, they will hold a public hearing, update the plan based on community input and seek final adoption of the plan by the Board of Education.

People who wish to provide feedback on the proposed plan can do so online at until March 23 at 6 p.m. This time and date is also when the public hearing will be held in person during a Board of Education meeting.