July 24, 2013 - Folks wishing to give their input regarding the potential creation of an 860-acre adventure park in Oxford Twp. centered around off-road vehicle (ORV) will be given another opportunity to do so on Thursday, July 25.
Oakland County Parks and Recreation will host a second design charrette from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Oxford Village municipal complex located at 22 W. Burdick St.
Citizens will be asked to view, discuss and vote on three distinct concept plans created using public input garnered from the July 11 charrette.
The county agency is exploring the idea of developing this proposed park on the 1,200-acre Koenig Sand & Gravel property.
The site is bordered by Ray Rd. to the north; the Addison Twp. border to the east; N. Oxford Rd. to the west; and Lakeville Rd./Polly Ann Trail to the south.
Dan Stencil, executive director of the county parks agency, said his staff will present three concept plans that are "as different as possible" to give citizens some options.
Citizen input will then be gathered "as to how things can be modified and possibly blended together" into one final proposal, he said. He noted the final concept could contain "attributes" from all three plans.
"The goal of this is not to say 'I like Option A' versus 'I like Option B,'" explained County Parks Planning Supervisor John Noyes. "We're going to present three different configurations, then pick them apart."
For example, Noyes said the public will be asked to choose which of the proposed park entrances best addresses their concerns regarding traffic control.
All three plans will include the ORV area.
"That's a key element of the park," Stencil said. "The DNR (Department of Natural Resources) probably wouldn't be interested in buying an 860-acre park site without that (recreational) opportunity."
The state has indicated there's a need for more ORV riding facilities in southeast Michigan. With the exception of one in Genesee County, most of the ORV riding areas are located in northern Michigan.
Within the July 25 charrette, there will be two interactive sessions – one at 6:45 p.m. and another at 7:45 p.m.
Each will consist of a power-point presentation, discussion and participants using electronic devices to vote on whether they like or dislike individual elements of the various concept plans. The outcome of each vote will be displayed for the participants to see.
"You get immediate results," said Stencil, who calls the devices "consensus clickers."
Each session is limited to 60 people because that's how many interactive voting devices will be available.
"If we have more than 120 people show up, we can try to add an additional session if folks are willing to stay late and we don't get kicked out," Noyes said. "We could also try to a put version of this on-line, like a survey. It wouldn't be quite the same experience because you miss out on the discussion, but that would be another option. Or we could even schedule a whole nother meeting.
"We're not going to turn anybody away. We're going to figure out a way to have everybody experience that."
Between 40 and 50 people attended the July 11 charrette.
"Personally, I thought that was a good turnout," Stencil said. "I'm hoping there will be even a larger turnout for this session."
The results of the first design charrette are posted at www.destinationoakland.com.
A total of 27 written comments submitted by citizens are available for viewing. They're a mix of opposition, support, questions, suggestions and concerns.
Comments ranged from calling this proposed park "the greatest idea that has ever (come) about in the Oxford area" to labeling it as "detrimental to the Oxford area, the environment, property values and traffic flow."
Here's a sampling of the comments:
n "(It) would be great to have an ORV park close to my home My kids love to ride with me."
n "Great use of the land . . . Wonderful ORV location vs. driving too far away to other ORV parks."
n "This is not the right area for a park like this. The property is bordered by residential areas on all sides. I am concerned about drunk drivers, trespassers, the strain on our fire department and police, noise and wildlife habitat being destroyed. A park like this is better suited to a larger, more rural area."
n "Moved here for the peace, land, family, environment and investment. Feel all (this) is in jeopardy (due to this proposed park)."
Although creating a legal public place for ORV riding is the main impetus, the proposed park could also offer opportunities for horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, archery deer hunting, scuba diving and training, water recreation and watercraft use, nature trails, wildlife viewing and zip-line experiences.
As it stands right now, the concept involves the Koenig land potentially being acquired by the DNR using monies from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust fund.
The concept hinges on the grant being awarded and Koenig's owners deciding to sell the property to the state, which is by no means a sure thing.
There have been no negotiations or agreements with the landowner, only some preliminary discussion. Although the proposal calls for the DNR to purchase and own the land, it would be leased to the county parks department for a period of at least 50 years.
During that time, the county would be solely responsible for the development, operation and maintenance of the multiuse park.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.