September 11, 2013 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Orion Township residents have about one month left to help decide the five-year future of their surrounding parks and recreations.
So far, only 138 of 35,000 people have taken the survey.
The Parks and Recreation Master Plan survey will help determine and dictate the priority and spending of funds budgeted for Orion Township's parks, paths, trails, programs and community events held for the next five years.
Should the township buy some more land? Sell some off? Light the baseball fields at Friendship Park? Build a skate or splash park? What about a new water sports rental facility on Lake Orion?
Citizens can come forward with their ideas, opinions and concerns in a number of ways. With two online opportunities, people can go to oriontownship.org and select the red type prompting two different surveys to give their opinions. The first survey is standard, with about 11 pages of questions on everything parks—signage, trail conditions, number of facilities, rentals, favorite activities, etc.
If you're more of a visual kind of person, the second survey is for you. A virtual map awaits with an overview of the current parks. Like the cloud in a cartoon that appears when a character is thinking, citizens can 'bubble in' (type) their suggestions for individual parks by selecting an area on the map.
"You can click on the map, click on Friendship Park and say we would love to have a splash park here," said Chris Barnett, township supervisor. "People can go on and 'like' your comment and see what other people in the community are asking for."
Online surveys aren't for everyone. If that is the case, community forums will be available in the coming months. The dates are still to be decided.
The goal of the township is to not have to make all the decisions, but let residents have their say.
One skater was so passionate about a possible skate park that he joined the Parks and Recreation Committee as the student representative.
Logan Kaiser even got between 500 and 600 people to sign his petition for a skate park.
"Right now it's actually pretty popular," he said, "I've put things out on Facebook and Instagram (a social media tool using photographs). A lot of my skating friends are backing it and a lot of the people at the high school are backing it too."
The township is also working with a consulting business that will be building the master park plan once all input has been received, around November or December for an approximate fee of $50,000.
Over the years the township has set aside money for parks improvements, and set a broad budget of a couple hundred thousand dollars this year. The township is currently in the process of setting their 2013-2014 budget which will look at each recommendation individually.
"At this point that all gets determined by what we choose to put onto the plan. So as we're looking at the plan, if we choose to do a certain component we would research what the cost would be," said Lisa Sokol, director of community and programs.
As of now, Sokol said the township is looking at adding a couple of youth baseball fields, an inside storage facility such as a poll barn for vehicles and equipment, the replacement of the Friendship Park playground, and the addition of other vehicles or a mower to the township parks equipment.
For an online tutorial on how to use the online surveys, view http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiV9Je7oBtE.