Wish List For Royal Oak Parks is a Long One

Picnic shelter, field lighting, new parking lots top list of priorities.

At the top of the list of priorities is a picnic pavilion at Memorial Park.
At the top of the list of priorities is a picnic pavilion at Memorial Park.

When members of the Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Advisory Board meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Mahany/Meininger Senior Center they'll review a list of growing needs for various items to maintain and improve Royal Oak's parks.

Tod Gazetti, superintendent of recreation, has outlined a list of capital improvements for discussion. The estimated cost of all the items is more than $1 million.

Of that total, the majority is wanted for athletic field lighting at Worden Park ($500,000) and for playground structures and tennis court resurfacing ($185,000) at six different park locations.

Picnic pavilion is top priority 

At the top of the list of priorities is a picnic pavilion at Memorial Park. 

"Royal Oak is deficient in picnic shelters for our residents," said Gadzetti, superintendent of recreation, in a letter to city officials. "Based on the National Recreation and Park Association national standard, we should have 10 picnic shelters. We currently have four."

Memorial Park is the first choice for a picnic structure because it would have the least amount of impact on the neighborhood, according to Gazetti, who estimates the project cost at $50,000. The pavilion could generate $4,000 - $6,000 in revenue annually, he said.

Other items on the wish list include:

  • Athletic field lighting at Worden #4 and #5: $500,000
  • New parking lots at Whittier and Exchange: $50,000 – 90,000
  • Playground structure Wendland Park: $30,000
  • Fibar playground mulch installation program: $40,000
  • Baseball field mix installation program: $40,000
  • Playground structures and tennis court resurfacing: Memorial Park ($40,000), Gunn Dyer ($30,000), Waterworks Tennis Courts ($25,000) Kenwood ($35,000), Fulton ($30,000) and Dickinson Tennis Courts –possible new pickleball site – ($25,000)

Gazetti pointed out that last year, through various funding sources, playground structures were installed at Starr/Jaycee, Optimist, and Huntington Woods Park, and tennis courts at Lockman and Meininger Parks were resurfaced.

Parks part of strategic planning

In a citywide survey conducted in the fall by Cobalt Community Research – a Lansing-based nonprofit organization – residents were asked to chime in on whether or not less-used city parks should be sold to "improve parks that are used more often."

To date, the results of the survey have not been released by the city, but an unofficial survey conducted by Royal Oak Patch shows 43.3 percent of poll-takers opposed the sale of parks, while 28 percent are in favor and 28.7 percent need more information. 

All of Royal Oak's community parks are dedicated, therefore they cannot be sold without a majority of residents' voter approval.

This subject of Royal Oak parks is expected to be on the agenda at the strategic planning meeting set for Jan. 18 in the Police Conference Room at 221 E Third Street.

The Duke of Royal Oak January 06, 2014 at 07:32 AM
The residents were asked to pay more taxes because of financial short fall and now the city wants to spend money on this stuff. Now is not the time. The concern should be on the city's pension liabilities. Not to mention the WASTE of money spent on a new city logo, that by the way is awful!
Nate McAlpine January 06, 2014 at 08:14 AM
If all our money went to pensions, I'd never see RO spend another dollar on park improvement. Also, isn't there a possible bailout by the state on the way? You still need to provide services and the parks are a great place to spend money.
Debbie Campbell January 06, 2014 at 08:24 AM
—The final bullet point in the 1/5 post: Royal Oak's Bond Rating Gets a Bump--further substantiates the need for a plan of action concerning unfunded liabilities— Mayor Ellison has been driving this bus for a DECADE now—the Commission’s paralysis on this is mind-boggling: “A negative adjustment was given by S&P for the size of Royal Oak's pension obligation compared to total governmental expenditures, as well as the lack of an approved plan by the Royal Oak City Commission to begin to fully fund the annual required benefit contributions.”-
Brian Morency January 06, 2014 at 09:26 AM
Resurface tennis courts?!?!?!?!? How about resurfacing my street!
Elyse Van Houzen January 06, 2014 at 09:33 AM
I am glad Wendlend park is on the list. Pieces of rusty paint fall off the structure and hopefully the fibar mulch system will alleviate the fleas the neighborhood kids keep bringing home to their mothers from the sand under the rusty climber. It is hard for me to sell $350+ houses to families when the local parks are deteriorated.
DianeKH January 06, 2014 at 09:51 AM
Nate-The state will not be bailing us out. We have massive unfunded liabilities at the local, state, and federal levels. When they talk about the national debt being +-17 trillion, they are not including unfunded liabilities. When you add those, our true debt is +-100 trillion. This is a big hole that has been dug and then ignored by every level of government for years. Nobody wants to address it because it seems insurmountable. I don't necessarily think we should put every dime into funding our debt, to the detriment of all else...but we at least have to come up with a plan. If Royal Oak doesn't address this soon, we are all in for some really fine increases in our taxes. The bond rating upgrade is disturbing to me. On the one hand, if we borrow money, we'll probably get a slightly better interest rate, but I suspect that our elected officials will just see this as another opportunity to spend and borrow more.
Pbrzez January 06, 2014 at 10:23 AM
This seems like an extensive wish list. Do we really need all of those expansions at Memorial Park? There is a pavilion a mile east at Jaycee Park. My kids played almost every sport known to man, their games were scheduled for day use at Worden Park. We all survived with out lights. Use the $'s wisely. Local play equipment needs to be upgraded. This would have the biggest impact on the surrounding neighborhood families ( I hope RO didn't forget there are families in this city not just bars) Please, please do not sell any parks to pay for these expansions. Once a park is gone, it's gone. Walkability to neighborhood parks makes R.O. a place people want to move to.
Debbie Campbell January 06, 2014 at 12:12 PM
I agree--It would be a shame to sell off any of our parks—When my kids were young our neighborhood elementary school playgrounds were an important meeting place for families to build friendships and a sense of community—with so many of those gone now our neighborhood park space is even more important—I say we need to focus on maintenance of our parks—ie: cut grass and replace broken equipment –Can’t block grant money be used for play structure replacement???
Pamela Ozdych Saunders February 05, 2014 at 07:53 AM
Grant Money is a great idea. There must be all sorts of Healthy Kids initiatives out there. And, if RO closes any small park they simply deem underutilized (by some haphazard survey/study) to fund building projects at other ones, a strong majority of residents will not be happy.


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