A playscape in Fran Leaf Park will get replaced this spring with modern playground equipment.

A playscape in Fran Leaf Park will get replaced this spring with modern playground equipment.

Photo provided by Leslie Clark

Input needed on Keego Harbor parks plan

Natural area restoration to be part of the plan

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 14, 2019

 Tate-Optimists Park has had resilient surfacing installed. The park already had an accessible route connecting the street to the West Bloomfield Trail network, and it has signage now as well.

Tate-Optimists Park has had resilient surfacing installed. The park already had an accessible route connecting the street to the West Bloomfield Trail network, and it has signage now as well.

Photo provided by Leslie Clark


KEEGO HARBOR — The Keego Harbor Parks and Recreation Commission will be collecting public input over the next several months to see what changes might be made to public parks and recreational offerings.

The commission, which is in the process of updating its recreation master plan, will ask residents to brainstorm at public sessions, Keego Harbor Parks and Recreation Commissioner Leslie Clark said in an email.

Another way to collect input might be to interview people who attend the events, she said.

“While you are waiting in line to get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny, you can expect someone with a clipboard to ask your opinion. And a third way is social media. We will publish questions or polls and collect the responses,” she said.

The Keego Harbor community is “quite diverse,” and reaching everyone through varied techniques will ensure varied input.

“We want to address the recreation needs of everyone, regardless of age, ability or income. We are working on the questions now. This is not just about gear — it is also about places and about events that people enjoy,” she said.

Keego Harbor’s current five-year recreation master plan was adopted by the City Council and was registered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in April 2016. It expires in December 2020.

“However, the city recently updated their master plan, which was quite old, so we are revising the recreation master plan to make sure it is synchronized with the city’s plan and state funding priorities,” Clark said, adding that grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources — like the Recreation Passport grant program and Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants — are vital in assisting local communities meet the goals and plans defined in their recreation master plans.

Jon Mayes, the recreation grants manager for the MDNR, said in a phone interview that the MDNR lists a five-year recreation plan as a requirement for local communities to apply for grant funding. Mayes said that’s because the MDNR wants to ensure that the communities are surveying respective residents to obtain input from them to see what recreation amenities are wanted or needed.

“It ensures the local unit of government is proactively planning for the future and maintenance of things and what the community wants and needs for outdoor recreation,” Mayes said. “We want to make sure these things are thoughtfully … prepared in a public setting, exposed to public scrutiny so people know what is going on.”

Clark added that municipalities have master plans to assist them in development issues, and those plans involve public meetings to get input from residents on their vision for the community. A recreation master plan is similar specifically addresses the recreation needs of the community.

“These plans are subject to public review and comment before adoption. Recreation master plans are reviewed, approved and adopted by the City Council. They are also reviewed by the Oakland County Planning Department before being registered with the Michigan DNR,” she said.

“The development of the city’s master plan, which covers complex issues and requires the help of a professional planner, was an expensive process. The Parks and Recreation Commission developed the current recreation master plan on their own, as volunteers, following the template of the previous plan. We are doing it again now. The city will save quite a lot of money, so the council is happy about that,” she said, adding that the commission will submit the plan to the Planning Commission, then to the City Council for adoption. “We expect to have input from everyone before it is done.”

Clark said that the current recreation master plan focused on improving the equipment in city parks, including the playgrounds, and access to them.

“In order to spend the small amounts of funding we get effectively, it was necessary to have a vision of each park,” she said. “The main goal was to make them safe and accessible. We have successfully implemented a number of the projects listed in our old plan. We did that with federal Community Development Block Grant funds, a Recreation Passport grant from the Michigan DNR and fundraisers like the Taste of Keego.”

Clark said the Parks and Recreation Commission is funded primarily by fundraising and grants. The city provides groundskeeping and maintenance through the Department of Public Works.

The commission, made up of volunteers, raises money for most of the events the commission puts on and receives various grants.

“The annual city budget for parks and recreation, aside from DPW operations, is $250 for supplies, which generally goes for paint and stain so volunteers can do some upkeep,” Clark said.

“We try not to impact the city’s general fund. The volunteers of the Parks and Recreation Commission will be assembling the recreation master plan at no charge to the city,” Clark said.

The commission handles a CDBG budget of just over $23,000.

She said a big upgrade is coming this spring to Fran Leaf Park, 2138 Brock St. The old wooden playscape will be replaced using CDBG funds.

Clark said the bid process closed in early February for work planned for April at Fran Leaf Park. The commission was scheduled to review the results at a meeting Feb. 13 and planned to take the CDBG-funded project to the City Council after that.

“We’re going to need some people to come and participate in some build work and some light duties around that project,” she told the City Council. “You’ll find out about that through social media or (by) calling City Hall.”

She said in the email that the city’s master plan reflects an “increased interest” and concern with natural resources, stormwater management, walking routes and the development of city-owned property on the lakes that surround Keego Harbor.

“Those items are now also priorities on the state recreation master plan. Our current (city) recreation master plan includes, in a minor way, goals and objectives addressing natural resources such as trees, invasive species management, stormwater management,” she said, adding that the updates to the city’s recreation master plan will increase the “emphasis on those things as well.”

Clark said the commission expects to include goals that help connect “people to nature, restore some of our natural areas, and enhance the routes as well as the destinations.”

Clark noted that there is one alternate seat open on the nine-member Parks and Recreation Commission.

“Two of the three alternate seats are filled, so we have room for one more active busybody — that is what we need,” she said.

“We have social media mavens in charge now,” she said. “We’ll be also using it to call for volunteers because we could use volunteers a lot of different times throughout the year.”

For more information on upcoming Parks and Recreation activities, including a March 9 Greektown Casino trip and more, find the Keego Harbor Parks and Recreation Commission on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KHParks or email keegoparks@gmail.com.