Improvements may include enhancements to playgrounds, trails, gathering spaces and more.

Improvements may include enhancements to playgrounds, trails, gathering spaces and more.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

County to make $20 million investment in local parks, facilities

By: Andy Kozlowski | C&G Newspapers | Published November 21, 2022


OAKLAND COUNTY — City officials are celebrating a commitment by Oakland County to invest heavily in municipal parks and recreation, with about $20 million split across destinations such as Ambassador Park in Madison Heights and portions of Beech Woods Park in Southfield.

The funds will also be used to improve recreational facilities at select locations, such as spaces for joint recreational programming at the Hazel Park Community Center at Green Acres Park.

The funding includes $15 million in federal money, part of the $244 million allocated to Oakland County by way of the American Rescue Plan Act. Another $5.2 million in matching funds is being provided by the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission.

In addition to the locations in Madison Heights, Southfield and Hazel Park, there are also plans for improvements at Shepherd Park in Oak Park, Hawthorne Park in Pontiac, and Mack-Rowe Park in Royal Oak Township.

Depending on the location, enhancements may be made to walking and hiking trails, universally accessible playgrounds, outdoor exercise and fitness equipment, athletic fields and courts, landscape restoration and preservation, gathering spaces for families and friends, and more.

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights, said she is excited to partner with the county for an expected $4.75 million investment at Ambassador Park.

“These improvements will benefit residents of all ages and all abilities. Having spaces for all our residents to play and participate in recreational activities is imperative for community building,” Grafstein said via email. “Once complete, we will see environmental improvements such as landscape restoration, native gardens and more trees being planted. There will also be a new pickleball court, play structure and new seating, giving park visitors more options of activities in which they can participate, and more places to rest.”

Gary McGillivray, an Oakland County commissioner and chairman of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission, thanked Oakland County Executive David Coulter and his fellow commissioners for their support.

“The public turned to parks and trailways in record numbers during the pandemic to enjoy the positive impacts spending time outdoors can have on our physical and mental wellbeing,” McGillivray said in a statement. “(This investment) will pay dividends for generations to come.”

Ed Klobucher, the city manager of Hazel Park, described the funding as a “game changer.”

“Our city will now be able to update badly outdated facilities and equipment to provide vastly improved recreation services for Hazel Park and our neighboring communities,” Klobucher said.

Kenson Siver, the mayor of Southfield, said the support is appreciated.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with Oakland County Parks and Recreation for improvements to Beech Woods Park,” Siver said in a statement. “Oakland County has many great facilities, but not all of them at convenient distances for south Oakland residents. We truly appreciate the county’s desire to develop recreational facilities in Southfield.”

Grafstein said that the improvements come at the right time for Madison Heights.

“The pandemic really highlighted the physical and mental health benefits of being outside for residents,” Grafstein said. “The enhancements the county is planning will make Ambassador Park more enticing for residents to visit.”