At the Oakland Township Board meeting held on April 12, 2022, it became clear that there is not a common “vision” between the Township Board and the Parks & Recreation Commission as to what our Parks and, more significantly, Land Preservation parcels should be in our Township. This issue became apparent in trying to define what work was to be done on the recently purchased Lost Lake Nature Park expansion (renamed the Fox Nature Preserve at the meeting).
The meeting was attended by many people supporting the Parks and Recreation Commission’s understanding of land preservation. This approach focuses on eliminating invasive plant species, improving conditions for historically native plants to return and thrive, and improving the conditions for young oak trees to thrive in “Oakland” Township so, as the existing trees die, new ones will replace them. These things in turn provide environments for beneficial insects and birds to thrive in the Township.
The meeting was also attended by many people who live near the Fox Preserve property who do not want to see the property change from what exists now. For them, it appears that preservation means – let it stay as it is, or let the property evolve with little or no active management. Some were concerned that changing what is out there now will result in loss of the wildlife that currently live in that environment.
This lack of a common understanding of what land preservation means, and more importantly, how Oakland Township wants to implement land preservation, needs to be jointly agreed upon between the Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission before our Township can move forward satisfying all of our Township residents desires.
This agreement must be based on Oakland Township citizen input:
Should the decision on a specific property be based solely on the input from adjacent property owners?
Should their input affect the entire property?
Should adjacent property owner input be factored only in “buffer zones”?
What about the voice of the remainder of Oakland Township citizens?
Does the strategy the Board and Parks Commission selects preclude Oakland Township from getting future grants to fund land purchases?
The Board’s decisions on April 12 will not resolve the issues going forward. Their decisions may place Oakland Township’s ability to fully meet the requirements of the grant fund for the land purchase in jeopardy. If the requirements are not met, we may have to return the + $3 million received in the grant.
Several citizens as well as the Parks and Recreation Commission members suggested a joint meeting with the Board to get everyone on the same ‘wavelength’. The Board has refused to respond to this request.
The decisions the Board made on April 12 appear to primarily be based on the opinions of the property owners near the newly acquired property. The Board needs to get broader input on this strategic decision for the Township.
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, THE BALL IS NOW IN THE BOARD’S COURT!
(site manager and Oakland Township Planning Commissioner for 27 years)
This board is very adversarial so far. They seem to think that they can unilaterally make decisions from on high- that simply is not how this works.
I think there are issue on both side on this matter. I hope ego’s and emotions may be suppressed to help the Township move forward.
Richard- I saw a note from an OT resident, making the suggestion of actually hiring a professional mediator, to settle once and for all, the actual control and responsibilities of both parties. They said this happened before. Both parties can walk away or disagree, but at least there is an impartial and fair hearing on the “issues”. I saw it mentioned in the meeting that the PRC is charged with Acquiring, Preservation, and Maintenance of All Parks in the Twp. How the Land Preservation became outside of that, is more than strange. Never mind that being adjacent to the Lost Lake Park should be viewed as an extension of that park, not some BS irrelevant name. Also, NO BoT plan for the new property has ever been explained and how ongoing care will be done. Seems like the BoT wants all the control, but NONE of the subsequent work. It looks like a very poor job of informing residents of the park plans was done. Also, why a gradual process wasn’t implemented is a mystery, to be the least disruptive. BTW, the Bill Fox estate DID do the Twp. a favor by giving us the First Right of Refusal. They could have easily put it out for bids by developers and gotten more!
Keep On Watching!! John Sanderson
Thanks for you input. There are administrative issues on both sides of this matter. Ego’s and a lack of resident understanding of what classic “Land Preservation” means is the fundamental issue. Based on comments made by some of the Board members, and residents near the Fox Nature Preserve, they simply want the land to be ‘left alone’ and preserved in that manner. Until the broader population of OT understand what land preservation can be, and are vocal about it, the NIMBY (not in my back yard) mindset will overpower the Board in making their political decisions. From my perspective, if a border zone of any land preservation parcel can be left untouched (if that is what they want), a win-win opportunity exists.