By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.- A opening date for the new state park in the township has been moved until next summer.
The township ORV park to be located on the west side of Dixie Highway on reclaimed gravel pit property was set to open in late 2018 was now moved to next year as deliberation between the Oakland County Parks and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for the park management continues.
“We don’t have a lease with the state yet,” said Dan Stencil executive officer of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission which includes 13 parks, golf courses and a $25 million budget. “The draft is going back and fourth between the county and state, it’s part of the process. It’s one of those things that take time. At some point, as part of negotiation we’ll come up with a master plan for the entire park. We’ll seek help with the process from state, county and townships in addition to ORV enthusiasts. When completed the park will provide for a variety of interests from motocross to quads to Jeeps.”
In conjunction with the Oakland County Parks, the state property is intended to be used for a professionally designed off-road track state park.
The concept will test the skills of drivers and abilities of machines at slow speeds, in a safe, legal environment on the south side of Mt. Holly where the noise will not be intrusive nor change the character of the community. The off-road track was opened to the public as a test in late 2014 and attracted several hundred spectators during the Dixie Gully Run.
The project moved forward in June 2017 when the MDNR purchased 113 acres of property from Steve Stolaruk of Star-Batt, Inc. and 122 acres from Katie Leoni of Holly Disposal. The 235 acres, were mined for gravel, but earmarked for a state park, comes after the MDNR reported in December 2014 a grant for $2.9 million was approved from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. Only a portion of the grant was used in the property purchased so far. Currently, about 145 acres of the 235 are included in the first phase of the ORV park. Some of the remaining acreage is still mined by area companies.
A preliminary concept to develop a working partnership between the Oakland County Parks and Recreation and the Michigan Department of Recreation for the management of the Groveland Township ORV Park moved step closer last December, following a meeting of the Oakland County Parks and Recreations Commission meeting Waterford Oaks County Park.
However, since that time the process has stalled.
“We are surprised at how long it’s taken to resolve this issues,” said Bob DePalma, township supervisor. “The delays are not the result of the township, rather it’s between the county and the State of Michigan. The issues are around who’s going to manage and pay for what. The operation of the park is what’s on the table.”