Normandy Oaks Park welcomes hundreds at grand opening in Royal Oak

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 12, 2021

 Kids await the inaugural water dump from the bucket at the new splash pad during the grand opening of Normandy Oaks Park in Royal Oak July 10

Kids await the inaugural water dump from the bucket at the new splash pad during the grand opening of Normandy Oaks Park in Royal Oak July 10

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Children ascend high on the rope climbing structure, part of the new playground at Normandy Oaks Park, July 10.

Children ascend high on the rope climbing structure, part of the new playground at Normandy Oaks Park, July 10.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK — After a rainout June 26, hundreds of people converged at Normandy Oaks Park for a grand opening event July 10.

Officials kicked off the event with remarks, including a State of the City address from Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier, before turning on the spigots at the splash pad and unleashing the public to explore the largest park in the city.

The park was originally slated to open in the summer of 2019, but construction was hampered first by an especially soggy spring in 2019 followed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Thanks to a $1.1 million contribution approved by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners in March 2019, the park includes amenities that would have been slated for later phases, including a trail system, a native nature area, and a pedestrian bridge over a retention pond connecting Normandy Oaks Park to adjacent Elks Park.

The park also includes a splash pad, a pavilion with restrooms, a sledding hill, a playground and a parking lot. The native nature area is an oak savanna habitat and includes a pollinator garden. Nonprofit Bees in the D recently installed two honeybee hives nearby.

Royal Oak Department of Public Service and Recreation Director Aaron Filipski anticipates the soccer fields being playable this fall. The fields were engineered with the infrastructure and materials to promote drainage, as well as a premier seed mix.

A $228,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund allowed 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.

“There were at least 400 people at any given time (during the park’s opening event), maybe more,” Filipski said. “The kids played in the splash pad all day, the play structure was just packed full of kids, and people enjoyed the walking trails.”

He said that Oakland County also brought inflatables and a rock climbing wall for kids, and food trucks added to the entertainment.

His favorite part of the new park remains the oak park savanna habitat, which drew herons to the edge of the water and turtles to a log July 10.

“(The native wildlife has) become so accustomed to their new visitors, and that was good to see,” Filipski said. “If anybody walks through the park, I guarantee they’ll see things they normally wouldn’t see during a stroll through the neighborhood.”

He added that the public’s patience paid off and that it was gratifying to see the joy on people’s faces July 10.

“From the perspective of the (DPS), we’re so pleased to finally be able to open this up,” Filipski said. “Now we’re shifting the focus on maintaining the park and the expectations people have. Now that people are using it, we want to hear feedback to build upon what we have as time goes on.”

The park is built on the site of the former city-owned Normandy Oaks Golf Course.

In 2014, the city 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.

“During the past year we found the best of who we are, and we are rising above the dark clouds of this pandemic and setting our eyes on the future — a future worthy of our collective spirit and stronger than we could have ever imagined,” Fournier said in his state of the city address.

Despite the challenges, Fournier highlighted the city’s high safety status, the strength of home values and neighborhood investment, ongoing road and infrastructure updates, economic viability, and return of businesses.

He also noted the library’s more than 10,000 contactless pickups, the Clerk’s Office management of three elections and a record 20,000 absentee votes, virtual meetings to ensure continuity and transparency, and new ways to help residents struggling to make payments.

“We will place a strong focus on sustainability, attainable housing, and solidifying our community as a welcoming place to live and visit,” Fournier said. “This year, we will be putting together a complete environmental sustainability plan that will assure we do our part for cleaner air, water and land.”

Despite the past year being one of the most difficult periods in the city’s history, Fournier said he looks forward to the future, with this year marking the centennial anniversary of the city.

“Over the course of the past year, we have proven to be resilient, committed and engaged as a community,” he said. “The state of our city is very good, and the state of our people is extraordinary.”

Normandy Oaks is located at 4234 Delemere Blvd., near Normandy and Crooks roads.

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

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