Wahby Park in St. Clair Shores is one of the parks addressed in the city’s 2024-2028 parks and recreation master plan, approved by the St. Clair Shores City Council on Jan. 22.

Wahby Park in St. Clair Shores is one of the parks addressed in the city’s 2024-2028 parks and recreation master plan, approved by the St. Clair Shores City Council on Jan. 22.

Photo by Alyssa Ochss

Shores council approves parks and recreation master plan

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 2, 2024


ST. CLAIR SHORES — At their Jan. 22 meeting, the St. Clair Shores City Council approved the 2024-2028 parks and recreation master plan in a 7-0 vote.

Interim Parks and Recreation Director Rob Spinazzola and City Planner Liz Koto presented the agenda item. Before the discussion and approval, a public hearing was held with no speakers.

“The plan must be approved and uploaded to the DNR website by Feb. 1 for us to formally apply for grants in 2024,” Spinazzola said. “This is the main reason we must put a plan like this together.”

Spinazzola also said it helps the city and the department with a roadmap for the future.

He later said they started to work on the master plan last April. They had almost 1,000 survey responses, but he said they did not get a lot of people to show up to the in-person meeting in August.

“That’s something I think we can improve upon next time we do it, though,” Spinazzola said.

He said the main concern of residents was the safety and cleanliness of their facilities and that the only big differences to this master plan are the new items they wanted to achieve in the next five years or so. Between 20 and 25 staff members were reportedly involved in creating the plan.

Parks and Recreation Event Director Henry Bowman moved from the parks and recreation director position while the master plan was being updated. Spinazzola said there were no issues with the transition.

“The transition was smooth and seamless,” Spinazzola said. “I had already been working on the plan prior to the transition.”

Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Candice Rusie said she was one of the council members who had a lot of concerns. She said she marked up the plan’s first draft with a red pen. She later said she would like the first copy of the regular master plan to not be marked up so many times.

“I spent a lot of time on this, correcting a lot of things that should not have been given to me in this state,” Rusie said. “And put out to the public in this state because it looks like we don’t know what we’re talking about.”

She said she appreciates the updates and upgrades made to the documents.

Spinazzola said all the issues Rusie marked were fixed in the final draft.

She was also surprised that the planning consultants, Spalding DeDecker, were not at the meeting. Koto said the consultants are to attend six meetings between the approval of both the parks and recreation master plan and the city’s regular master plan. At that time, they had attended three or four meetings.

“I’m just surprised that, you know, being here for us passing it isn’t part of the contract,” Rusie said.

Rusie asked how the plan was given to the public to have their input. Koto said that the original plan received by the City Council in November or December was put online and available at the Parks and Recreation Department.

“And then this version is on the website just with the packet the way you all received it,” Koto said.

Rusie said they needed to really advertise the regular city master plan.

“I think getting some more varied public input in this would be, for the next one, for the entire city, would be desirable,” Rusie said.

Councilman John Caron said he appreciates all the updates getting done, including getting a page in the plan dedicated to each park for inventory. He asked for the dates of upgrades to the parks to be added to the plan for historical reasons.

He made comments on the “wish list” and aspirations of the plan. He said what’s listed is not everything they’re ever going to do in five years, but that it is good for the supervisors and managers to recognize the improvements that need to be done.

“I think we’ve got a good idea of things that we could go after and things that we’ve already applied for and we’ll just kind of keep applying until we could get some traction on (these),” Caron said in terms of grants and other funding needed for the improvements.

Councilman Dave Rubello said that this is a road map and that it is not always set in stone. He said these types of plans and grants go hand in hand.

“I think we got a good basis for what we’re looking for,” Rubello said.

Rob Spinazzola thanked the council as well as Community Inspection and Development Director Denise Pike and Koto for their work on the plan. City Manager Dustin Lent said he commends every single member of council for meeting and discussing the plan as well.

“I do appreciate the council coming in, meeting with the recreation committee as well as the planning committee and the consultant, and getting all of our thoughts and information in,” Lent said.

Spinazzola welcomes the community to call or email with their input.

“Because we listen and we do our best to try to accommodate everybody the best we can,” Spinazzola said.

The Parks and Recreation Department can be reached by email at scsicearena@gmail.com or by phone at (586) 294-2000.