A groundbreaking for a new playground was recently held at Innovation Hills in Rochester Hills, the city’s first new park to be developed in 25-years.
The playground and several other additions to the 110-acre site make up the third phase of construction for the park, located at 2800 West Hamlin Road. Ground broke on Innovation Hills in the fall of 2018. It opened to the public this time last year.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was a delay in the construction schedule for the third phase of the park, which includes building a new ranger shack, installing shelter areas and the new playground. A kayak landing was able to open there this summer, as well as a significant amount of landscaping work.
The playground, slated to open in May, will have a focus on universal play for children of all abilities and look to engage kids in the park’s natural features. Bryan Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, said the city’s been engaged with the autism and special needs community since the park’s inception to help design it.
“From the colors we use to how we have the path set up to navigate the park, it’s going to be accessible for all and that’s very important,” Barnett said.
Such as a merry-go-round, swings and treehouses that are wheelchair accessible. A zip line is also planned for the playground, as well as a water feature in the shape of the Clinton River.
“My direction to the team was nothing you suggest can be found in any other park. We really are trying to make a unique experience,” Barnett said.
The city is also planning to plant 167 trees to replace the 67 trees demolished for the playground.
The total cost for the park to date is $3.5 million, with $2.5 million of that coming from grants and private donations. The rest was paid from the city’s general fund. Barnett estimates the total investment for Innovation Hills will be about $11 million. The city intends to keep its timeline for completion loose as it seeks more grant funding and private donations to pay for the next phases of the park’s development.
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