By David Fleet
On April 2, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners OK’d a 20-year operating agreement, with a 10-year additional option, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Under the agreement, the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission will operate the ORV Park, located in Groveland and Holly townships, in partnership with the MDNR. The park, consisting of former and currently active sand and gravel mines, is across Dixie Highway from Groveland Oaks County Park and Campground.
The current plan, for Oakland County’s 14th park is to finalize design by this fall, complete any construction in the spring of 2020 and have the park open by July 2020.
“The township officials are pleased the process of establishing an operating agreement with the state is complete,” said Bob DePalma, Groveland Township supervisor. “This park will bring much needed economic growth to the community for years to come.. In addition, the park ends continued attempts at establishment of landfills in the township that have plagued us for years.”
The ORV park incorporates 235 acres on property once mined for gravel. The MDNR reported in December 2014 a grant for $2.9 million was approved from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to purchase the property, however, only a portion of the grant was used so far. Currently, about 145 acres of the 235 will be included in the first phase of the ORV park. Some of the remaining acreage is still mined by area companies.
The park will be open to all types of ORVs, including full-size vehicles, side-by-sides, all-terrain vehicles or ATVs, and motorcycles. Staff from both MDNR and OCPR have been working for the past few years on a plan for how to incorporate something for everyone at the park.
“This park has been a long time in the making,” said OCPR’s Executive Officer Dan Stencil. “We’ve been talking with the MDNR about this for 20 plus years and working hard on this particular property for the past seven. The stars finally aligned, and we have a location with easy access, very few neighbors and the property is surrounded by recreation land.”