Southfield officials have begun the process of asking for residents’ input on improvements at Beech Woods Park. Mayor Ken Siver said additional picnic shelters were among the ideas given.

Southfield officials have begun the process of asking for residents’ input on improvements at Beech Woods Park. Mayor Ken Siver said additional picnic shelters were among the ideas given.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Southfield seeks residents’ responses on how to improve local park

By: Jacob Herbert | Southfield Sun | Published March 10, 2021

 Those interested in giving input on the park plans should email Samantha Hall at sam@projects-people.com.

Those interested in giving input on the park plans should email Samantha Hall at sam@projects-people.com.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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SOUTHFIELD — Before conducting a major city project, Southfield officials make it a point to get feedback from residents. With the Community Development Block Grant program, the city asked residents how they would like to see the community as a whole improve.

Now they’re asking for input on improvements to Beech Woods Park as a part of a Beech Woods master plan project. The city is in the process of developing a new plan to reimagine underused spaces within the park and to provide improved recreation opportunities for Southfield residents.

The 85-acre park opened in 1971 and is located along Beech Road, between Eight Mile and Nine Mile roads. The park has a recreation center that has over 17,000 square feet of gymnasium space with the capability to run three collegiate basketball games simultaneously, four volleyball/tennis courts, and a wellness/fitness center. There are also several playground areas and picnic shelters to host events.

“Community engagement is a really important part of the master plan project,” said Chris Riggert, a master plan project consultant with the OHM consulting firm. “One of the overriding goals here is to align the features of the park with the desires of the community. We’re relying very heavily and investing a decent amount of time on outreach to engage folks.”

Riggert, whose company is partnering with Southfield on this project, said there are three strategies being used to gain resident input. The first is an online survey that will be administered by the end of March. The second strategy will come from pop-up boards placed at the city’s Civic Center and the Beech Woods Recreation Center. The boards will be interactive and will allow residents to post thoughts and concerns about the project. The final strategy will be focus groups where conversations will be held and residents will once again give feedback.

The city held a virtual focus group conversation March 3 and plans to have more before the project is completed. Riggert said the plan for March is to gather as much initial input from residents as possible; this will provide the foundation for some of the concepts they come up with. April will be used to come up with concept alternatives and different schemes of how the park could look.

Towards the end of April, a larger community meeting will take place. The city will invite residents to reflect on and review the new park designs. The final master plan is expected to be wrapped up in May. Then city staff will make a presentation to the City Council, and the residents will be able to listen in.

Engaging the community on this project is a high priority for Southfield officials; Parks and Recreation Director Terry Fields said that was one of the main reasons the city decided to partner with OHM on this project. Both entities placed resident input before anything else.

“We’ve got a lot of parks and we’ve got a lot of opportunity to provide programming across the board and special events,” Fields said. “If we just planned what we as a staff thought would be good for people — I think the more important product is to create what our residents want to see. They live there, play there and it’s where they spend their time. We want to make that as much of a quality experience as we can.”

One suggestion for improvement Mayor Ken Siver heard from residents was additional picnic shelters. The mayor said they book up fast and are busy from spring until fall. The city has seen a boom in recreational facilities that dates back to the 1970s. As the interests of Southfield residents change, the city and its parks department should be able to adapt.

“It’s the people’s money,” Silver said. “We can sit here and say we should do this or we should do that, but we’re serving the people and we want to make sure what we offer is in line with interest. This is a good thing to do.”

Residents interested in participating in the virtual focus groups should contact Samantha Hall at sam@projects-people.com.

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