“Great Parks for Great People” has never been truer than during this year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For nearly 55 years, Oakland County Parks, trails and open spaces have served as places where people can find respite, restoration and physical activity. Whether it’s a vigorous bike ride in summer, cross-country skiing in winter, or a leisurely stroll on a tree-lined trail, the 13 Oakland County Parks are here for you.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the parks remained open, even offering free entry March through June, so its 80 miles of trails could be used for hiking, walking and biking — and the use of trails increased exponentially as residents sought ways to relieve stress, maintain fitness and find peace in the great outdoors.
“Quality of life isn’t just good jobs and good schools but recreational opportunities as well,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “We have incredible parks in Oakland County, parks of all kinds. Investing in our parks will go toward maintaining and upgrading our parks for future generations.”
Every year, more than 2 million people visit the 13 Oakland County Parks, located in all four quadrants of Oakland County. An additional 1.6 million people are served through outreach programs, Recreation Assistance Partnership Program (RAPP) visits, community collaborations and special events with Oakland County’s 62 cities, villages and townships.
The parks system is funded by a millage that has never increased since 1966. The current .2310 millage rate is set to expire Dec. 31, 2021. On Nov. 3, 2020, residents will be asked to vote on a millage replacement and increase to .35 mills to improve, operate and maintain parks, open space and water areas, trails and recreation activities.
“In general, the aging parks system needs to catch up on maintenance and capital improvement projects that have been delayed due to lack of funding,” said Oakland County Parks and Recreation Executive Officer Dan Stencil. “There are more than $24 million dollars in projects that need to be addressed. Our staff has maintenance management plans to keep the facilities safe and attractive, but it’s the non-recreation parts of a parks system that most often needs attention. Windows, doors, roofs, roads, plumbing and electrical systems are not the reasons you visit a park, but they are the behind-the-scenes mechanics that keep facilities safe and operating.
“Both the parks and recreation commission and staff work hard to ensure that taxpayer funding is utilized in a way that meets the needs and wants of Oakland County residents,” Stencil added. “We regularly ask for visitor feedback, and complete a county-wide recreation survey every few years, so programs, services and amenities are created with park user needs in mind. Results consistently show our residents want investments to be made into the parks system.”
Learn more about Oakland County Parks by clicking here.