Ferndale Parks & Recreation

Ferndale Parks & Recreation

By Sara Teller

WHERE OTHER DEPARTMENTS WITHIN THE CITY OF FERNDALE, LIKE POLICE, FIRE, AND COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ARE ESTEEMED FOR THEIR EFFORTS IN PROVIDING PUBLIC SAFETY AND EXPANDING THE COMMUNITY, THE PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT, SPECIFICALLY, BRINGS VALUE BY INCREASING THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF ITS RESIDENTS.

“We measure our success in community engagement and satisfaction with our programs, parks, services, and outreach efforts,” explained Recreation Manager, Emanuel Johnson.

Currently operating out of Incubizo, which is only a few blocks from City Hall, P&R not only provides ongoing community programming, but assists in providing safety shelters and services during severe weather events, mass power outages, evacuations, and other emergencies, and has made efforts to improve outdoor public spaces with paved pathways, adaptable features, and accessible amenities. The Department also offers a Ride SMART/Ferndale Community Transportation program, providing transportation to Ferndale residents throughout the city and within a five-mile radius. The program is open to all residents.

Johnson said, “We provide the community with healthy outlets for all ages and abilities, life-changing experiences, safe spaces, and connections to nature and to each other. In functioning as a dynamic department, we consider ourselves the heart of our community.” The Department’s focus has always been on inclusivity, and staff members strive to ensure all visitors can access and utilize park features. The past few months have brought about many changes – some good, some not so good. For starters, unfortunately, the pandemic reduced available staff to maintain the Kulick Community Center, and it has been permanently closed. The City has slated it to be reverted back to school ownership.

Johnson said of this new development, “Facility problems that already existed were exacerbated and ultimately rendered the facility inoperable.”

In November of last year, former Parks Deputy Director Lisa Bryant also left to take a position with the federal government. Since her departure, P&R has welcomed two full-time staff members – Robert Burch, from the City of Pontiac, now serving as Deputy Director, and Program Specialist Matthew King, who leads youth and adult sports programming.

STILL TO COME IN 2023, JOHNSON SAID, “WE HAVE A HANDFUL OF POSITIONS that we are looking to fill in the next few months. Specifically, we’ll be looking to hire two part-time recreation aides, a new seasonal camp director, and several seasonal camp counselors for our thriving summer camp program. Our team members share a passion for serving the community and work hard to bring programs, improvements, and joy to every resident and participant. We work to provide a space where our staff can bring their whole self to work to help make magical moments for the community.”

2023 will also mark the first year in which the splash pad at Martin Road Park will open for a full summer season. The pad will be available to the public every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10:00 A.M to 8:00 .PM.

“We’re hoping to kick-start [the season with] our concessions stand and offer the community some delicious food options at Martin Road during park hours,” Johnson said. “We’re also looking forward to our upcoming special events that include the return of our Gravity Art Fair & Skate Contest on June 10, our Movies in the Park series, and our annual Ferndale Fall Festival on October 7.”

IN ADDITION TO THESE FESTIVITIES, P&R IS WORKING HARD TO SOLIDIFY THE REMAINDER of 2023’s sports leagues and is continuing to ramp up amenities and programming opportunities.

“Residents should look for- ward to the Wilson Park Improvement Project, which begins construction in late-spring or early-summer and will see amenities add- ed to the park that include a new walking path, a new shade structure, a new basketball court, parking lot improvements, and a new accessible water fountain, among others,” Johnson said.

The Wilson project is backed by more than $300,000 in grant funding that Department staff worked hard to secure over the past four years. Grant-funders include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Oakland County, the Community Foundation’s Ralph C. Wilson Legacy Grant, and America in Bloom.

“We’ve also secured grant funding to help sup- port several future projects at other parks, so keep an eye out for upcoming announcements,” he added. “We are continuing to utilize our community partners to offer some of our programs (shout out to Ferndale Public Schools) as we continue to plan for a new home for our Parks & Recreation operations.”

FERNDALE’S P&R DEPARTMENT IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS and donations to continue bringing free family events like EGGstravaganza and Movies in the Park to Ferndale residents. The staff welcomes residents to apply for a position on the Parks & Recreation Commission (P&RC), a volunteer board made up of Ferndalians who advise, provide input, and suggest direction for Parks & Recreation programs and projects. Anyone looking to volunteer for one or more events can also add their name to the volunteer contact list available online.

“For donations, please feel free to add any dollar amount during checkout when registering for any of our programming online,” Johnson said. He added, “We’re continuously working to seek and secure funding to improve our parks, public spaces, programs, services, and offerings. We work hard to secure sponsorships and grants for our programs and projects to help minimize their impact on resident tax dollars. If any business is interested in sponsoring a program or park feature, contact Director LaReina Wheeler at lwheeler@ferndalemi.gov.”

The Parks & Recreation Department can also be reached Monday through Saturday at 248-544-6767 or via email at recreation@ferndalemi.gov.

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