Dan Stencil, executive officer of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission, discusses Normandy Oaks Park Oct. 31.

Dan Stencil, executive officer of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission, discusses Normandy Oaks Park Oct. 31.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Normandy Oaks Park slowly moving toward completion

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published November 20, 2020

 A bridge rests on land before being installed at Normandy Oaks Park in Royal Oak Oct. 31.

A bridge rests on land before being installed at Normandy Oaks Park in Royal Oak Oct. 31.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Welcome signage marks the entrance to Normandy Oaks Park in Royal Oak Oct. 31.

Welcome signage marks the entrance to Normandy Oaks Park in Royal Oak Oct. 31.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Parts of a new play structure stand at Normandy Oaks Park Oct. 31.

Parts of a new play structure stand at Normandy Oaks Park Oct. 31.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK — On Oct. 31, the city of Royal Oak and Oakland County partnered to offer walk-throughs at the future site of Normandy Oaks Park, 4234 Delemere Blvd., near Crooks and Normandy roads. Several families made the stroll in Halloween costumes.

Crews have been chipping away at elements of the park since July. The work, originally slated to continue this past spring, was delayed due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order shutting down construction and resumed shortly after the order was lifted.

In 2019, an especially soggy spring also delayed work that was slated for April. The city opted to postpone construction to let the ground dry out instead of incurring additional costs to force the start of the project.

Royal Oak Director of Public Service Aaron Filipski said that despite the setbacks, he expects the park to be operational next season in 2021. He purposely left the timeline broad because some crews felt uncomfortable working simultaneously during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, with all of the trades, they sort of stack up with each other and it’s not easy to reorganize that very delicate dance, because there’s a sequence to have things done,” Filipski said.

Once complete, the park will include a sledding hill, pavilion with restrooms, parking lot, splash pad, playground, walking trails, native nature area, two soccer fields and a pedestrian bridge connecting Normandy Oaks Park to adjacent Elks Park.

A $228,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund is allowing the city to install all green stormwater infrastructure, which will keep runoff out of the city’s sewer system and also irrigate the soccer fields using a detention pond.

Julie Lyons Brick, Royal Oak’s grants coordinator/energy and sustainability manager, said the grant also will help Royal Oak increase community-building and educational activities by partnering with the Clinton River Watershed Council.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners also allocated $1.1 million to help finance the park, specifically $521,250 to finish the trail system, $276,320 for the oak savannah habitat nature area and $213,080 for the pedestrian bridge.

“We actually developed a policy on how we will replicate this partnership with other communities,” said Oakland County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Woodward, D-Royal Oak. “Normandy Oaks was the catalyst for making it happen.”

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash said the site is a prime example of green infrastructure, which absorbs excess stormwater and naturally filters it back into the earth instead of shuttling pollutants into lakes, rivers and streams.

“It also brings in wildlife,” Nash said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier, after a muddy landing from the new playground’s slide, said he was proud the city’s voters opted to turn the former Normandy Oaks Golf Course into a park instead of another housing or commercial development.

“I hope other communities around Oakland County and this part of the state can take a cue from us that you can do awesome things if you collaborate and you involve your community,” Fournier said.

In 2014, Royal Oak shuttered the 50-acre golf course and voters approved — with 76% in favor — the sale of a 10-acre parcel to fund the development of the 40-acre park. Robertson Brothers Homes purchased the 10 acres of land to develop townhouses and single-family homes.

The city earmarked $3 million from the $3.8 million sale for the park and the rest for improvements at the Royal Oak Golf Course. The city will be responsible for maintaining Normandy Oaks Park, which will be partially funded by taxes paid by Robertson Brothers Homes to the tune of $150,000 per year.

The city launched an extensive community engagement campaign and used feedback from residents and stakeholders to customize the park.

On Nov. 3, Oakland County voters approved — with 76.4% in favor — an Oakland County parks millage renewal. For the first time in the park system’s nearly 55-year history, the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department asked residents to vote to increase its operating millage by approximately 50%.

The increase took the annual millage from 0.2329 mills, first approved in 1966, to 0.35 mills. The funds will be used to repair or replace amenities in the system’s 13 parks, as well as help forge more partnerships between cities and the county like Normandy Oaks Park.

For more information, call Royal Oak City Hall at (248) 246-3000 or visit romi.gov.

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