Farmington Hills seeks input for parks and recreation master plan

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published October 20, 2023

 As part of an effort to develop the next five-year parks and recreation master plan, the city of Farmington Hills is inviting residents to provide feedback.

As part of an effort to develop the next five-year parks and recreation master plan, the city of Farmington Hills is inviting residents to provide feedback.

Photo provided by the city of Farmington Hills


FARMINGTON HILLS — The city of Farmington Hills is offering an opportunity for residents who utilize the city’s parks and recreation services to share their opinions as to what they would like to see.

The city’s Special Services Department has been in the midst of laying out the next five-year parks and recreation master plan, and according to a press release, residents who utilize amenities, regardless of residency, are invited to complete a brief survey to help guide future parks and recreation decisions.

The community can provide feedback until Tuesday, Oct. 31, by visiting

According to the release, survey responses will be reviewed during development of the five-year parks and recreation master plan.

The master plan allows the city to remain eligible for state and federal agency grant funding.

Farmington Hills’ current plan is from 2019-2023, with the next one set to go from 2024-2028.

“The master plan is an important process the city goes through, specifically the Department of Special Services, every five years,” said Ellen Schnackel, who is the director of special services for Farmington Hills. “First and foremost, it’s an opportunity for us to get really great feedback from the community. … It’s a requirement through the Department of Natural Resources. They have pretty specific guidelines of what they’re asking for in individual communities’ master plans, so this makes the city eligible for funding through the DNR.”

According to the city, the DNR provides over $40 million in grants through a variety of different programs.

Farmington Hills is consulting with Landscape Architects and Planners, which is based in Lansing, to help put the master plan together.

Schnackel said that they were the “low bid on the project” at a cost of $35,000.

From Schnackel’s  perspective, Landscape Architects and Planners could offer something beyond being the lowest bidder and helping put together a master plan.

“A unique part of this relationship this time, with this particular contractor, we wrote in the RFP (request for proposals) that we wanted them to also not only help us put together the plan, but to assist us with writing grants over the next three grant cycles,” she said. “So we’re excited about that opportunity to have some assistance and direction. They’re well-versed in trying to get grants through the DNR.”

Aside from funding the city hopes to get from the DNR, there is another resource available to help pay for ideas that come from the master plan.

“It’s budgeted for us to complete the plan through our parks millage fund,” Schnackel said. “When some plans get developed, we take a look at what is realistic, what are some priority items, and then also, the larger capital plan that the city puts together. So it’s great to collect ideas, and I think if we all had that unlimited pot of money, there’s lots of things we’d like to do in all the properties, but we need to prioritize, understand what needs to happen and what we can actually afford.”

Schnackel shared what kind of input the city would like to get from residents.

“What do they think of our parks? What do they think of our programs and services? … What are some of the things that they’d like to see? … It’s great when we hear from people that are kind of those feet on the street — they’re in the parks on a consistent basis. They’re telling us what’s going on out there,” she said.

The parks located within Farmington Hills are Heritage Park, Founders Sports Park, William Grace Dog Park, Olde Town Park, Harmon Oaks Park, Bond Field, Pioneer Park and Woodland Hills Park.

“We have a pretty broad offering, from a park standpoint,” Schnackel said. “I think the others, when we get to the facility aspect, as far as popularity, the Costick Activities Center is hugely popular and kind of geared a little bit more towards adults 50 and better. I’d say The Hawk, which is the newest facility for the city to operate — we’ve just been open about two and a half years — is hugely popular as well.”

Amy Hall is the chair of the Farmington Hills Parks and Recreation Commission.

The commission advises city administrators and the City Council about matters pertaining to parks and recreation in the community.

“I’m continually impressed by the diversity in programming across the city’s Special Services Department, especially at The Hawk,” Hall stated via email. She said The Hawk brings the community together, and that there is something for everyone.

Hall has two daughters and a son.

“We really love the youth theater program, and my daughters participate year after year,” Hall stated. She said many of the youth theater families come from neighboring communities, and the parks are an asset to the community. “During COVID, Heritage Park practically saved our family.”

Although the survey isn’t yet complete, Schnackel already has an idea about what some  residents would like to have included as part of a new master plan.

“We certainly recognize that pickleball is very hot right now, so we’re getting a lot of feedback about that aspect,” she said. “I think since COVID we’ve seen a huge uptick in the use of our parks, specifically Heritage Park. … The playground area there next to the splash pad, we could have some additions there, I think, based on the amount of use. … Looking forward to getting feedback from the community on the areas where we’re excelling, but also areas where we might need some improvement.”

Schnackel described putting together a master plan as a long process, but an exciting one. She said that a five-year plan is written out and goes by the city’s fiscal year, which starts July 1 and runs through June 30.

In order for the city to make the master plan as comprehensive as it can be, Schnackel is encouraging residents to get involved in the process.

“It’s hugely important for us to develop short- and long-term goals, with regards to the parks, programs, facilities, that we’re offering,” she said. “It’s very important to hear from the residents, what they’re feeling about things. After all, it’s their tax dollars at work, so we want them to be satisfied.”