By Jim Newell
Before voters went to the polls on Aug. 7, Orion Township officials had already drafted a five-year plan of projects and infrastructure improvements for the parks and recreation millage.
More than 57 percent of voters supported the 1-mill, 5-year millage in the primary election.
“We have really earmarked those millage dollars. We didn’t ask for more money than we thought we would need,” said township Supervisor Chris Barnett. “We showed a plan that we would use if the millage was successful. That is still the plan, we’re still going to do the things in the parks that we said we were going to do.”
The millage is estimated bring in more than $1.67 million in the first year, and will be levied from 2018-2022, with the township planning projects from the funds from 2019-2023.
Proceeds of the levy will be used for operation, programming, equipment, facilities, personnel, maintenance, acquisition, capital improvements and all related costs of the parks and recreation department.
The township budgeted $1.98 million of this year’s $7 million operating budget for parks and recreation and is projecting more than $2 million in parks and rec. costs for 2019.
The parks and recreation budget is expected to be more than $2 million from 2019-2021.
“The millage is going to allow us to do a lot of the things that are in our parks and rec. master plan that we didn’t have the capital to do,” Barnett said. “Nothing is completely set in stone; it won’t be until we adopt our budget.”
Here is a breakdown of the proposed projects/purchases and estimated costs over the next five years.
2019 projects and estimated costs
Peterson Lodge renovation, $400,000. Baseball/softball field renovation/resurfacing, $100,000. Wildwood Amphitheater accessible pathways, $40,000. Life Trail Exercise Equipment, $12,000. Friendship Park meeting room roof repair, $30,000. Repair and replace soccer goals, $40,000. Green infrastructure projects (tree plantings, Bioswales, etc.; solar and wind power), $65,000. General repairs and maintenance, $475,000. Wildwood Amphitheater events and promotion, $25,000.
2019 total: $1.187 million.
2020 projects and estimated costs
Update/renovate Sheardy pavilion and restrooms, $100,000. Life Trail Exercise Equipment, $12,000. Replace roof and siding at Birch Grove and Alberici Lodge, $70,000. Install two volleyball courts at Civic Center Park, $50,000. Accessible walking trails at Civic Center Park, $25,000. Repair/replace playground at Jesse Decker Park, $125,000. Accessible walking path to baseball fields at Jesse Decker Park, $18,000. Install baseball field lights at Friendship Park (fields no. 1 and no. 4), $100,000. Green infrastructure projects, $4,000. General repairs and maintenance, $475,000. Wildwood Amphitheater events and promotion, $25,000. Sealcoat asphalt surfaces, $55,000.
2020 total: $1.059 million.
2021 projects and estimated costs
Install restrooms at Jesse Decker Park, $160,000. Install safety rail system on Jesse Decker sledding hill, $10,000. Upgrade Orion Center exercise equipment, $75,000. Replace LED billboard at Orion Center and township hall, $50,000. Upgrade Orion Center banquet hall presentation system, $35,000. Storage facility at parks and recreation, $75,000. Pave Orion Center trail head parking lot, $150,000. Replace kitchen appliances, $30,000. Green infrastructure projects, $4,000. General maintenance and repairs, $475,000. Wildwood events and promotions, $25,000.
2021 total: $1.089 million.
2022 projects and estimated costs
Install pavilion at Wildwood Amphitheater, $40,000. Install sound absorbing acoustic panels at Wildwood Amphitheater, $15,000. Build outdoor patio/deck at Orion Center, $125,000. Upgrade facility security, $40,000. Install pathway LED lighting at Wildwood Amphitheater, $25,000. Resurface Friendship Park and Camp Agawam roadways, $75,000. Pave Jesse Decker Park roadway, $85,000. Install restrooms and concessions at Friendship Park baseball fields, $150,000. Green infrastructure projects, $4,000. General maintenance and repairs, $475,000. Wildwood events and promotions, $25,000.
2022 total: $1.059 million.
2023 projects and estimated costs
Install Wildwood stage lighting, $15,000. Develop trail network, $50,000. New signage throughout park system, $150,000. Rebranding Orion Parks, $45,000. Grade and level Friendship Park practice soccer fields, $95,000. Pave main road at Friendship Park, $250,000. Green infrastructure projects, $4,000. General maintenance and repairs, $475,000. Wildwood events and promotions, $25,000.
2023 total: $1.109 million.
The township’s parks are Camp Agawam, with 140 acres; Friendship Park, 134.97 acres; Civic Center Park, 78.86 acres; and Jesse Decker Park, 24.65 acres. The township also maintains the Orion Center, Wildwood Amphitheater and owns 76 acres of undeveloped land off Joslyn Road, north of township hall, that is designated for future recreation or open space use.
In July 2017, the township conducted a community survey asking residents’ input on several areas, including parks and recreation. Survey results included:
• 40 percent of residents moved to Orion Twp. because of the parks, lakes and open spaces.
• 76 percent of residents do at least half of their recreation in Orion.
• 38 percent would like more recreation added.
• 37 percent use the parks on a weekly basis.
• 58 percent said they would support a parks millage with the fire millage expiring and no additional increase in taxes.cutline