New safety path will lead to park

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published March 6, 2018

 This summer, Oakland Township officials are planning Gallagher Creek Park improvements and a new Silverbell Road pedestrian pathway leading to the park from Adams Road.

This summer, Oakland Township officials are planning Gallagher Creek Park improvements and a new Silverbell Road pedestrian pathway leading to the park from Adams Road.

Photo by Linda Shepard

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Development of Gallagher Creek Park on the north side of Silverbell Road will include a new pedestrian pathway from Adams Road to the park.

“It is an important pathway, because (currently) there is no way (for pedestrians) to get to Gallagher Creek Park from the intersection of Adams and Silverbell,” said Jeff Smith, landscape architect with the civil engineering firm PEA.

Smith said the firm’s cost estimate for the 1,000-foot-long pathway project is $200,000 and will include improvements at all four Silverbell and Adams intersection pedestrian crossings and will meet current Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

In contrast to the 8-foot-wide boardwalk on the south side of Silverbell, the new 5-foot-wide pathway will be constructed of concrete.

“There is a significant amount of wetlands” on the north side of Silverbell, Smith said. An 8-foot asphalt path or boardwalk is not practical in terms of cost, he said.

“A 5-foot width would fit the pathway around the existing wetlands and brings the cost down,” he said. “Nothing will be built over the marsh. We are using the 5-foot (width) to avoid the wetlands.”

The 5-foot-wide sidewalk aims to “have less of an impact on the area,” Oakland Township Treasurer Jeanne Langlois said. “This project is (designed) to get into the park.”

Township officials are planning to install playground equipment, a parking lot, improved trails, restrooms and a picnic area at Gallagher Creek Park this summer. The 15-acre Gallagher Creek Park is located at the headwaters of Gallagher Creek. The township aims to balance the protection of the unique natural area with recreation facilities.

The Oakland Township Safety Paths and Trails Committee has been working in conjunction with the township Parks and Recreation Commission to ensure that residents have safe access to the park.  

“Gallagher Park is in the most densely populated area of the township,”  Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Director Mindy Milos-Dale said.

Safety paths are currently located at all quadrants of the Adams and Silverbell intersection except for the northeast corner, which connects to the Gallagher Creek Park property. Slightly more than half the length of the path is adjacent to Sherwood Forest Nursery, which currently has a fence and some nursery stock located within the public right-of-way, which will be relocated.

The sidewalk will allow for a seamless transition to a sidewalk in the park. No plans are currently in the works to connect the new pathway to the larger township safety path network, according to township officials.

By a unanimous vote Feb. 27, the Oakland Township Board of Trustees approved the new safety path project, to be paid for with budgeted funds. Construction is slated to begin in June.

“In the area this (park) is being built, there are a lot of playscapes in the yards of homes,” Board of Trustees member Frank Ferriolo said. “They are trying to build a magnet (park) that is somewhat different. The option of having that there, and what they are planning to do with benches and picnic tables, I think it will be a nice spot. If there was nothing going on at Gallagher Park, nobody would be walking down that side of the road. When you put these two things together, $200,000 is a lot of money. I have come to an understanding and appreciate what is going on there.”