One of the highlights of The Hawk is its new aquatic center, which features a water slide, a lap lane, a leisure center and a deep water area with a rock wall and zipline.

One of the highlights of The Hawk is its new aquatic center, which features a water slide, a lap lane, a leisure center and a deep water area with a rock wall and zipline.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Farmington Hills’ new recreation center, ‘The Hawk,’ now open

By: Mike Koury | Farmington Press | Published July 9, 2021


FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Hills’ long-awaited recreation center, “The Hawk,” finally has opened.

The former home to Harrison High School, The Hawk opened its doors to the public June 8 after years of development. The facility, located at 29995 12 Mile Road, is named after the school’s mascot.

Harrison High School was purchased by Farmington Hills in 2018 for $500,000 and closed its doors the following spring. The city began development on the center in the fall of 2019, and it was expected to be completed in 2020. However, COVID-19 brought a yearlong delay to the project.

Special Services Director Ellen Schnackel said the community has been talking about the recreation center for as long as she’s been with the city, as Farmington Hills has outgrown the Costick Activities Center.

“We recognized very quickly that this facility is just too small for all of the programs and facilities we wanted,” she said. “Our residents have told us through community surveys and our master plan process for at least 15 years, ‘Hey, we’d really like a larger recreation center’ with some components they were interested in.”

After investing more than $26 million into the center, the 245,000-square-foot Hawk now contains an aquatics center with a waterslide and a lazy river, a zipline, a climbing wall, a fitness center, a gym, dance studios, pickleball courts, volleyball courts, and a full-sized indoor basketball court.

The center also contains a multiuse performing arts space and updated auditorium. With the delay brought on by the pandemic, Schnackel said it’s incredible The Hawk is now open.

“It’s awesome to see people enjoying the facility, the athletic fitness portion, the aquatic center, all of that,” she said. “People are raving about it. They’re enjoying using it. … It’s really great to see people in the community of really all ages and interests and abilities using the park area outside and using the facility.”

Facilities Supervisor Jimmy Vayis manages The Hawk each day. Since its opening, he estimates, the center gets anywhere from 500 to 1,000 visitors daily.

“It’s definitely been an exciting time for the city and the residents and the people who use the facility,” he said. “It’s definitely something that has been in the works for a long time, and it’s something that the city knew we really wanted to eventually get on our belts, and now that it’s here it’s super exciting and something that we can look forward to continue to build for years to come.”

Vayis believes the aquatic center has garnered the most attention from visitors over the last month, though the gym and fitness center have been big hits, too. He said there are challenges to staff anytime a new facility is opened, but so far, everything has been going smoothly

“We have a really good group of people here and the team is doing a tremendous job each day to make sure we’re working together and making this place the best place it can be,” he said.