Beech Woods Park will undergo a renovation of over $7 million.

Beech Woods Park will undergo a renovation of over $7 million.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

County to turn former Beech Woods Golf Course into nature preserve

Multimillion-dollar investment to transform property into Southfield Oaks County Park

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published December 15, 2023


SOUTHFIELD — On Nov. 16, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved a partnership between the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department and the city of Southfield for park improvements.

The Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department will redevelop 39 acres of the former Beech Woods Golf Course, which closed in 2019. The golf course will be transformed into a nature preserve public park called Southfield Oaks County Park, adjacent to Southfield’s Beech Woods Park. The project is a 20-year renewal partnership agreement that allows for collaboration and cost sharing between both the county and the city, allowing Southfield to retain ownership of the park while the county operates it and granting Southfield residents free access. A budget of $2 million has been allocated for this portion of the renovation of the former golf course.

An investment of over $7 million will be made at Beech Woods Park and Southfield Oaks County Park within three years to enhance recreational amenities and restore natural features with a combination of federal, county and city funding. The planned improvements include the construction of a new playscape, new all-season restrooms, new picnic shelters and improved walkways. Oakland County is to contribute $1.5 million towards these improvements.

“Oakland County Parks continues to be a great partner to the city of Southfield as we work collectively together to expand recreational opportunities throughout Southfield and the county,” said Mayor Ken Siver. “This partnership and investment in Beech Woods Park will greatly improve the amenities, such as walking and hiking trails, as well as the park’s infrastructure and access improvements.”

This partnership is through Oakland County’s Healthy Communities Park and Outdoor Recreation Investment Plan, which is a $20.2 million program to enhance parks and recreation in communities that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Healthy Communities Park and Outdoor Recreation Investment Plan utilizes funds from the American Rescue Plan Act matched by the county, with a portion of the funds dedicated toward the expansion of the Oakland County park system through long-term agreements with local governments for the county to assume responsibility for managing multiple municipal parks, which were approved earlier this year and include Pontiac Oaks in Pontiac, Oak Park Woods in Oak Park and the addition of Ambassador Park to Red Oaks County Park in Madison Heights.

Oakland County Commissioner Yolanda Smith Charles emphasized the integral role that community feedback has played in the Healthy Communities Park and Outdoor Recreation Investment Plan from residents who care deeply about the future of the parks.

“The community members speak out loud and boldly on these parks,” she said. “All of these parks had residents who were highly vocal on how they wanted to see this move forward and how they definitely did not want to see it move forward. So, I feel like the county did a great job to allow the municipality to do the legwork on what the residents wanted. And then we were able to negotiate with the leadership of each of those municipalities to come up with something that was going to work for both parties.”

The city of Southfield and the county encouraged residents to submit their input on the future of Beech Woods Park through an online survey or in person at the city’s tree lighting ceremony. Simon Rivers, the associate planner at the county parks department and a Southfield resident, said that he received feedback from around 40 residents at the tree lighting, and when asked to rank their top three highest priorities, residents said that they wanted walking paths, all-season restrooms and restoration of the Rouge River.

As a Southfield resident and county parks employee, Rivers offered a unique perspective to the project.

“We’ve seen how important parks and outdoor recreation have been ever since the pandemic, and I’m really excited that my job is collaborating within my city to improve our parks and our natural resources, because I started walking during the pandemic to get outside and reflect on life,” he said. “It’s really great for both your physical and your mental health, so I’m excited that we have some new stuff coming to Southfield and some new, exciting opportunities for parks and recreation.”

For more information, visit and select “get involved” and “planning.”