BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Walkers, runners, and bikers can go from Independence Oaks County Park to Independence Oaks-North without touching Sashabaw Road, thanks to a new safety path installed alongside.
“Trails are the number one reason people visit the Oakland County Parks, and we know that walking, running, biking and other forms of trail usage continue to increase in popularity not only in Oakland County, but across our nation as a whole,” Executive Officer Dan Stencil said. “This safety path project provides an opportunity for park visitors and area residents to expand their recreation inside and outside our park boundaries.”
The Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission and Independence Township officials dedicated the new safety path on Aug. 1.
The collaborative project brings more walkability to park visitors and community residents with the addition of a safety path and boardwalks over wetlands.
“It’s amazing to see how many people come out and enjoy it already,” said Derek Smith, director of the township Parks, Recreation, and Seniors Department.
The event was attended by Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commissioners and staff, Independence Township officials and staff, project partners, media and other stakeholders. A brief presentation was followed by a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
The 1.6-mile trail includes 870 linear feet of 10-foot wide boardwalks through wetland areas and an 8-foot-wide asphalt trail with grass shoulders.
The $1.34 million was funded by $740,000 from the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission and $600,000 from Independence Township Safety Path funds.
Independence Township installed two resting stations, at the north and south entrances of Independence Oaks County Park. The north entrance station features a bench, bike rack, bike- fixing station and air pump. The township is installing several more resting stations for its new “Park to Park” trail project that will connect Independence Oaks County Park to Clintonwood Park, Depot Park, Deer Lake Beach Park and Bay Court Park.
“This commitment is just beginning with this path – get ready for more,” said Gerald Fisher of Clarkston, Oakland County Parks and Recreation commissioner. “This is really a great thing.”
The safety path planned for inside the park, connecting it to Independence Township’s Clintonwood Park, would be one of the most dramatic hiking trails in southeast Michigan, Stencil said.
“We’re looking at opportunities to link the paths through the parks internally to Clintonwood Park, a 10-11 mile loop,” he said. “It would be unprecedented in southeast Michigan, a spectacular opportunity.”
Independence Oaks County Park is at 9501 Sashabaw Road. Independence Oaks-North is located at 10089 Sashabaw Road. For information, visit OaklandCounty Parks.com.
BY PHIL CUSTODIO