Oakland County Parks’ second manager, R. Eric Reickel of Fenton, who brought two “Michigan firsts” to Oakland County Parks and Recreation, was recognized for his years of service and many contributions to the parks system on Saturday, Aug. 3 at Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston.
Held at the annual Wheelchair Daze event, Executive Officer Dan Stencil presented Reickel with a framed photo plaque. “Reickel’s Rock” was then unveiled by Stencil and Parks Commission Vice-Chairman Dave VanderVeen. Planted in a newly-landscaped area at the foot of the park’s Twin Chimneys shelter, the large rock holds a permanent plaque outlining Reickel’s accomplishments. Reickel reminisced and shared career stories, then enjoyed traditional picnic fare with his guests to cap off the experience.
During Reickel’s 12 years with Oakland County Parks and Recreation (1972 – 1984), the parks system grew from six parks and 2,200 acres to nine parks encompassing 3,600 acres. His tenure saw the creation of Waterford Oaks Waterpark with Michigan’s first wave-action swimming pool; Wint Nature Center; Red Oaks Golf Course and Golf Dome indoor driving range (the first of its kind in the nation); acquisition of Glen Oaks and Orion Oaks; expansion of Springfield Oaks Golf Course; establishment of the Mobile Recreation and Therapeutic Recreation programs and Bicycle Motocross track; consolidation of food and beverage services; and creation of the citizen-based Oakland Parks Foundation.
Reickel’s recognition was funded by private donations. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree (1958) in Recreation Administration from Michigan State University. He has held memberships and leadership positions with the Michigan Recreation and Park Association, National Recreation and Park Association and National Association of County Officials. His 40-year career took him from Bucks County, PA to Oakland County, Wayne County and Lansing, all in Michigan.
“I had a very diverse career – very rewarding,” Reickel said. “There was never a day that I went into work that I didn’t look forward to it. My staff, commission and I were able to preserve beautiful open spaces for future generations, and I’m very proud of all our accomplishments,” he added.