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Township park plans will phase out some gravel pits

Groveland Township, DNR, Oakland County propose 350 acre recreation area

July 30, 2014 - Groveland Twp.- The sound of gravel trucks rumbling down township roads may be a noise of the past if local, county, and state officials have their way.

Last week, Township Supervisor Bob DePalma announced an extensive plan to reclaim some gravel mining property and create a multi-purpose outdoor recreational facility encompassing about 350 acres along the western fringes of the township.

"We've been burdened by the gravel truck complaints for many years due to the number of pits that operate in the area," he said.

"In the same location we've had at least three requests for landfills in our community—including a formal request from Holly Disposal for a landfill. In addition, several attempts to use the area for businesses have failed, including an extensive plan offered in 2007 that fizzled due to the collapse of the economy in 2008."

DePalma said township officials were approached by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Commission and the Oakland Department of Parks and Recreation regarding acquiring six parcels of property between Grange Hall Road to the south, Holdridge Road to the north, I-75 to the west and Dixie Highway on the east side of the proposed area. The mixed use recreational area will be near Groveland Oaks County Park and about 12 square miles of Holly Recreation Area in the township.

"At this time the discussion has been very positive with the landowners to purchase the property," he added. "The 90 acre township parcel will be leased, not sold, just so we don't lose control of the property. There will be some escalated closure of gravel pits."

In addition to Groveland Township, Nick Nichols farm, Desert Sands, Steve Stolaruk of Star-Batt Inc., and William Leoni of Holly Disposal have been approached regarding the project.

Funding for the project will come from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund—created in 1976 and protected in the Michigan Constitution in 1984 to receive the royalties from the sale of state-owned oil, gas and mineral rights. It funds public recreation land acquisition and public recreation facilities development.

"It's a long ways from where we are today," he added. "But there's good inter-est to see the project move forward. Later this year there will be limited testing to gauge what might be problems."

While several ideas regarding the types recreation that will be offered are still under consideration—DePalma reported extreme mountain bike riding, cable driven wakeboarding in one of the gravel pit ponds, trail running, and an off-road vehicle course.

"A park with ORV to operate at slow speeds, in a safe, legal environment that's on the west side of Mt. Holly where the noise would be intrusive or change the character of the community," he added. "Also possible, soccer fields and a possible winter sports park area with snowmaking equipment and tubing hills."

The project would put an end to the negative aspects of the gravel pits and be positive for the community," he added.

"The parks could easily increase home values from 5 to 20 percent," added DePalma.

For comments or suggestions on the proposed park call the township, 248-634-4152.

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