Author Archives: richardjmichalski

Parks and Recreation Commission Candidate for August 2nd Primary

Attached is information on an Oakland Township resident who is running for a Parks and Recreation position in the August 2nd primary election. After the last election, one of the elected Commissioners resigned. The Township Board filled the seat by appointing an individual. The rules require that the seat be filled with an elected individual at the next available election. For that reason, there is only one Commissioner position on the ballot this time. Please consider MATT PEKLO when you vote on August 2nd. His qualifications are listed below. You can also go to his website for more information on his priorities.

VOTE AUGUST 2ND IN THE REPUBLICAN PROMARY

MATT PEKLO for Parks and Recreation Commissioner

·      30-year-old lifelong Oakland Township resident dedicated to protecting our natural areas from development while managing money wisely.

·      Graduated with degrees in Natural Resources Management and Economics

·      Worked 3 summers during college as a stewardship technician in Oakland Township Parks and knows our parks extremely well

·      Currently working in the energy industry helping homeowners save money and reduce carbon emissions

·      Committed to seeking easier, more effective community input about our parks from all township residents

·      Married and owns a home between two of our parks.

·      Dedicated to family-friendly parks where children can learn and explore nature at its healthiest and best!

·      Strongly endorsed by Colleen Barkham, Paul Tomboulian, Joe Peruzzi and Trevor Barkham  – names you’ve come to trust in relation to the welfare of our parks!

Learn more and Donate at www.pekloforparks.com

One example of Oakland Township’s history of Land Preservation

I thought it would be appropriate to share a video of the prairie restoration work that continues in Oakland Township along the Paint Creek Trail. This is a video from several years ago, but the work continues.

A new park will be opening soon along the trail to give the public greater access to the trail. The park is on Orion Road near Clarkston Road. It will be called Paint Creek Junction Park (a reference to the old rail system that traveled the path).

Oakland Township continues to be supportive of land preservation and ecological restoration.

Dick Michalski

WHAT DOES LAND PRESERVATION MEAN IN OAKLAND TOWNSHIP

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!

Richard Michalski

(site manager and Oakland Township Planning Commissioner for 27 years)

URGENT REQUEST needed from Oakland Township Parks supporters for April 12th Board Meeting

About 8 years ago there was an attempt by the Oakland Township Board to take away some of the authority, the separately elected, Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission had possessed since its formation in the 70’s. The conflict was resolved by several agreements made during a joint meeting between the groups. Many of the Board members were replaced in the following election.

It appears the current Board has issues with how the Parks and Recreation Commission is managing the property of our Parks properties and the Land purchased through the Land Preservation fund. The Board has not made those issues public. They have a proposal, to be voted on at this Tuesday’s Board meeting, that would increase their control over the Land Preservation funds and the Park’s and Recreation Commission’s management of our parks.

Oakland Township has two major separately elected Boards or Commissions – the Township Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission. These two groups have worked together in a mutual respect manner for many years. The result is that Oakland Township is one of the most desirable communities in SE Michigan, in large part due to the fabulous Park system that the Parks and Recreation Commission has created.

If you are pleased with how Oakland Township Parks system, you can attribute it to the hard work of the dedicated Parks and Recreation folks on the Board and on staff.

If you want to learn more about the current attempt by the Board to take away some of the authority of the Parks and Recreation Commission, you can read the following historical summary from Cam Mannino and Reg Brown.

If you want to help influence the Township Board’s decision regarding their proposed attempt at taking over some of the Parks and Recreation Commission’s authority, please do one of the following:

  • Express your opinion to the BOT members through an email to all of them by using this link:
  • Attend the April 12, 2022 BOT meeting held at the Township Hall and express your opinion.

Richard Michalski

Here is the information referenced above:

Hello to friends of the Oakland Township Parks,

Since January of this year, the township’s current Board of Trustees (BOT) has made repeated attempts to wrest control of the Land Preservation funds and the management of our parks away from the separately elected and funded Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC).  I’m guessing that most of you agree that we elected the park protectors at the PRC to acquire, restore and manage our parks and natural areas, not the Board of Trustees. 

The effort is currently aimed at the beautiful extension of Lost Lake Park which was purchased with a $3 million matching grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) and monies from the Land Preservation Fund. 

The Board’s effort to undermine the PRC’s authority in the last three months are as follows: 

1) Feb.8, 2022:  A resolution appeared on the BOT’s agenda to rename the new extension to Lost Lake Park a “preserve”  and included an assertion that “all expenditures, improvements and authorized activities” in that park be “solely authorized and approved by the Oakland Township Board of Trustees,”  even though for decades we’ve elected Parks Commissioners to acquire, manage and maintain our parks.  And the PRC’s done an excellent job, acquiring and protecting 1500 acres of natural areas, returning them to health and consistently doing so within budget.  When concerned residents arrived at the BOT meeting, they were informed that the resolution was “withdrawn.”  The BOT members did not discuss the resolution as to who proposed it, why it was proposed or who supported it.  The residents spoke in opposition but the BOT did not answer anyone’s questions in regard to this resolution.

2) March 22,2022 The BOT blocked a request by the PRC to pay off a bridge loan from the BOT made to facilitate paying the previous owners of this property as quickly as possible.  The money to pay off this loan had been included in the PRC budget which was approved by the BOT last year.

3) March 29, 2022 A hostile letter from Adam Kline, the township manager and employee of the BOT, to Mindy Milos-Dale, the PRC’s parks director and an employee of the PRC.  In it, the BOT asserted through Mr. Kline that the PRC should stop all work on the new property which had not been approved by the BOT.  It further asserted that any work done without BOT approval would be “considered a trespass.”  

Before receiving this letter, the PRC had already directed invited property owners whose land abuts the new extension to attend an informational meeting on April 7 to learn about the PRC’s previous work from 2004 to 2022.  Kline’s letter also mentions that meeting and asserts that the PRC cannot “represent or take action that creates the appearance of authority over Township owned property” at that meeting.  He warned Mindy that she would be subject to “disciplinary action” if such representations were made. 

4) April 7, 2022 The PRC held the informational meeting on the Lost Lake Park extension even though people calling the township offices were told the meeting was cancelled.  A group of residents from around the park came to hear the PRC’s presentations and then discussed their concerns with the PRC commissioners for well over an hour.  The residents were heard, their questions answered, and they were encouraged to ask further questions of PRC staff or commissioners if anything concerned them about work in the park. 

5) Twice in the last 3 months, the PRC has requested a joint meeting with the BOT to discuss the ongoing conflict and the BOT has completely ignored those requests.  

6) April 12, 2022 The  BOT now has a new resolution on its agenda for next Tuesday, April 12 at 7:00 which further attempts to extend its control over the Land Preservation funds and PRC’s authority over and management of our parks. 

Their resolution asserts that: a) the BOT has chosen the name The Fox Preserve instead of making the new land part of Lost Lake Park as was stated in the MNRTF grant;  b) the “expenditures from the Land Preservation Fund are under the sole authority of the BOT; c) that the land will be “preserved” which seems to exclude the public’s use of the land and any stewardship work to restore it,  which violates the terms of the grant and d) all expenditures that “significantly or permanently affect the property or its structures” be submitted by the PRC to the BOT for their approval and authorization” before any work is done in the park.  This may threaten the grant since PRC needed to do safety work in the parks to make the public access available within the 90 days required by the grant.  It also would mean that the BOT which knows next to nothing about land restoration and stewardship would control decisions about what work is done in the parks.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

From our perspective, it seems that the BOT is determined to seize control of the Land Preservation Funds and apparently the management of parks acquired with those funds, starting with the Lost Lake Park extension.  This is despite the fact that Land Preservation Funds have been successfully used by the PRC with Board agreement for 20 years to both acquire large parks and then restore and maintain them.  Since many of the BOT’s assertions directly violate the terms of the grant, their actions may result in losing this new park land and also make the MNRTF hesitant to make future grants to Oakland Township.  We need those grants to purchase large parcels and prevent their conversion to large tracts of housing by developers.  

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

1. Please take a few minutes to express your opinion on this current resolution in a single email sent to the entire Board of Trustees before the meeting this coming Tuesday night at 7 p.m at the Township Hall.  It can be just a few sentences saying you oppose the resolution and want the PRC to continue to use Land Preservation Funds and do its work as it has done so beautifully for the last 20 years.  You can say you elected the members of the PRC to do this work, not the BOT.  Whatever you express, no matter how brief, will be useful.  Here’s the link to the page on the township’s website.  Just click on the link provided above the photos where it says, “Click here to email the entire Board of Trustees.”

http://www.oaklandtownship.org/boards_and_commissions/board_of_trustees/index.php

2. Please forward this information to any township residents that you feel are supportive of our Parks Commission and encourage them to send a letter on Monday or Tuesday before 7 p.m. as well.

3. Attend the Tuesday Night meeting to express your opinion in person.   Again, you don’t need a long speech.  You’re limited to 3 minutes anyway but a simple sentence or two spoken in person can be just as effective. The resolution is at the very end of the agenda so you may want to watch on local access tv (Channel 17 on Comcast/Xfinity cable) and come when they’re getting closer to that item.  Sometimes they are polite enough to move an item closer to the top at the beginning of the meeting to accommodate residents in the audience.  If so, that change will be made and the resolution may be moved up on the agenda.

Thanks so much for taking the time to make a difference.  Our Parks hang in the balance.  Please act!

Cam Mannino and Reg Brown

Learn more about Oakland Township’s Lost Lake Park expansion

Oakland Township has a wonderful park system that is managed by the elected Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission. They have recently acquired a large portion of land that will expand the current Lost Lake Park located in the Northwest portion of our township.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please come to the meeting that has been scheduled for April 7 at the Township Hall on Collins Road.

Charter Township of Oakland Parks and Recreation Commission

SPECIAL MEETING NOTICE AND AGENDA Lost Lake Nature Park Public Meeting

Thursday April 7, 2022 7:00 p.m.

Oakland Township Hall, 4393 Collins Road, Oakland Township, Michigan

Here is a link to the meeting agenda and the information that will be reviewed.

Learn about Land Stewardship in our Township Parks on February 23

As most of you know and appreciate, Oakland Township has a fantastic Park System that is the envy of many other Townships and Communities. The care of the land is not just a matter of letting “nature do its thing”. An understanding of the things necessary for the land to reflect its original ‘native’ character is something that requires good planning and hard work. Without this work, various invasive species would take over the character of the land.

Fortunately Oakland Township has a very knowledgable person that works for the Parks Commission who develops the stewardship plans and supervises this work for our Parklands.

If you want to learn more about how this work is done, and its positive impact on our Parklands, please come to a special meeting scheduled for 7PM on February 23 at the Oakland Township Hall on Collins Road.

Our township Natural Areas Stewardship Manager, Dr. Ben VanderWeide, will be discussing stewardship as it applies to 2022 in our parks.

Opportunity to provide input on State Redistricting proposals

As you may know, the States have an opportunity to establish new boundaries for US House Districts, State Senate Districts and State House Districts. The districts are redefined every 10 years after the new Census data is obtained. Since the Census was taken in 2020, we now have new data to establish the boundaries.

Gerrymandering by both parties has been a historical issue in many States, including ours. Several years ago, our voters had a referendum to eliminate the politics in establishing the boundaries by having bipartisan citizens participate in establishing the boundaries, so neither party is advantaged by the new boundaries. One objective of the process is to try to make as many districts “competitive” so as not to drive our politicians too far to the ‘left’ or ‘right’.

The new boundaries for our state are to be defined by the end of December. You have an opportunity to provide input to the plans tomorrow either by written notice, virtual participation in meeting, or actual participation at meeting being held in Ann Arbor. (Sorry for the late notice, I just found out about this)

Here is a link to the information on the meeting. (I will share my analysis of the US Representative district proposals at the end of this message.)

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/micrc/MICRC_Redistricting_Meeting_Notice_November_18_741321_7.pdf

The bipartisan committee has several proposals for each of the Represented positions. For the US Representative, there are 5 proposals. For the State Senate, there are 6 proposals. For the State House Representatives, there are 4 proposals. You have an opportunity to provide input on any and all of these.

As I stated above, one of the objectives of the bipartisan citizen committee is to have the boundaries try to create as many competitive districts as possible. There are a total of 13 Michigan districts.

I will now show two graphs for two of the proposed US Representative district plans. One of them creates 3 competitive districts (based on past voting precinct preferences). One proposal creates only 1 competitive district. Competitive is defined by having a near 50/50 Democrat to Republican split for a district. Oakland Township residents are in the 9th district in all of the proposals except one. In one of the proposals, Oakland Township is split between the 9th and 10th districts.

Here is the higher competitive district proposal titled “Chestnut”. In this proposal, 3 of the 13 districts are competitive (districts 3, 7 and 9).

Here is the much less competitive district proposal titled ” Lange”. This proposal only has one competitive district (district 7).

None of the other three proposals create as many competitive districts as “Chestnut”. It is for that reason, that “Chestnut” is my preferred proposal for the US Representative districts.

You are encouraged to go to the State’s website link, analyze their various proposals, and provide your input for each of the type or districts being analyzed.

  • US Representative
  • State Senate
  • State Representative

Eliminating Gerrymandering, as a political tool used by those in power, is something that our State’s citizens have voted to eliminate, or at least reduce. Your informed input can help eliminate some of the extremes on both side or the political aisle.

Thanks, and once again sorry for the late notice!

Richard Michalski

Paint Creek Cider Mill LLC lease extended for one year.

Amid the backlash and controversy from the recent Oakland Township Board decision to change the vendor at the Paint Creek Cider Facility, the winning vendor has retracted their bid for providing that service.

Here is a link to another article explaining the decision, and the subsequent Board action:

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2021/11/10/winning-bidder-for-paint-creek-cider-mill-in-oakland-county-withdraws-bid-cites-misinformation/

Township Board is changing vendor at Paint Creek Cider Mill

At the October 26th Oakland Township Board meeting, the Board made a decision to change the vendor who leases the commercial space at the Paint Creek Cider Mill. Their decision was not unanimously supported. Three of the Board members wanted to retain the current provider who is Paint Creek Cider Mill LLC. The four other Board members supported changing the vendor to Cookies and Cream/ Sprout Bake. This change will take effect in January of 2022.

The type of food available to Oakland Township citizens and those using the Paint Creek Trail will change dramatically. The current vendor has a fairly large menu with Pizza, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and miscellaneous items. The new vendor will sell ice cream, baked goods, and indicated that they would bring in sandwiches from other suppliers not at that location.

Attached is a copy of the menu from the current vendor:

Attached is a copy of the proposed business plan from Cookies and Cream:

The decision by the Board will significantly change the character of the Paint Creek Cider Mill, and the character of that facility in Goodison.

The Board’s decision is probably irreversible, but you may want to share your thoughts on their decision at their next meeting, which is scheduled for November 9, 2021 at 7 PM at the Township Hall on Collins road, just north of the cider mill.

Former Oakland Township Parks Commission member David Mackley passed away

The residents of Oakland Township owe much to the hard work of David Mackley who has recently passed away. David was a member and leader of the Oakland Township Parks Commission for many years. The wonderful Park System that Oakland Township has is due, in a large part, to the hard work of David and the others who have served on the Parks Commission. It is fitting that his Memorial Celebration will be held this Saturday at the Cranberry Lake Park in Oakland Township.

Here is the information on Dave’s passing, published in the Oakland Press:

On May 29, 2021, David Mackley, loving husband and father, passed away at the age of 85. Dave was born August 16, 1935, grew up in Rochester, MI, graduated from Rochester High School in 1953, and graduated from GMI in 1957. He was employed at Pontiac Motor as a designer for 47 years. He was active in Oakland County 4-H for 25 years and an Oakland Township Park Commissioner for 33 years. He is survived by Bonnie, his wife of 59 years; sister-in-law Janie Brookbank; son Lawrence Mackley (Katrina), grandchildren Rachelle, William, Rebekah, Ke’Landra, Emillie, Kourtne, Elizabeth, and Scott, and great-granddaughter Layla Brown; as well as daughter Jodi Mackley Berger (Justin) and grandsons Toryn and Celzian.

A memorial gathering will be held June 12 from 2 to 4 p.m., 2:30 service, at Cranberry Lake Park, 388 W. Predmore, Oakland.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit  Sympathy Store.