Excitement Grows Around ORV Park, Holly Community Learns Details
(Mel Corrigan, April 14, 2019)
Holly, Groveland Township, MI- Off-road vehicle riding is a popular past time in Michigan. There are more than 180,000 licensed ORV’s in Michigan according to a 2009 study, up 46 percent compared to a 1999 survey . With the state’s extensive system of more than 3,100 miles of ORV trails, it’s no wonder Michiganders are enthusiastic about off-roading . The new ORV park will be located north of Sheilds Road and west of Dixie Highway, occupying portions of both Holly and Groveland Townships, in close proximity to Mt. Holly Ski and Snowboard Resort, nearby state and county parks including bike trails, camping and more. Given all the region has to offer, Groveland and Holly Townships have joined forces on an economic development project known as the Dixie Byway.
Jon Noyes, Principal Planner for Oakland County Parks and Recreation (OCPR), and Robert DePalma, Groveland Township Supervisor, addressed Holly Area Chamber members at the Chamber’s monthly breakfast on March 29.
The ORV park will be located on the current site of Tri-City Aggregates, Inc., a sand and gravel supplier. In 2014, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund awarded the state $2.9 million for the purchase of the formerly and currently active mines; the land is now owned by the state of Michigan. The park will be a 235 acre property accommodating all off-road enthusiasts, from slow crawlers to motocrossers. Phase 1 comprises 113 acres and will open to the public in summer of 2020. The remaining land is part of Phase II (122 acres) with a plan to be completed by summer 2023. It will be a stand-alone ORV park—not a part of the extensive network of existing OVR trails that Michigan has to offer.
On April 2, 2019, Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved a twenty-year operating agreement (with an option to renew for ten additional years) between Oakland County Parks and Recreation and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources . 235 acres was acquired for approximately 2 million dollars. The land is owned by the State of Michigan for recreational purposes, and will be owned by the State in perpetuity. Oakland County Parks and Recreation has negotiated an operating agreement for the site
The ORV park will have a flat-rate entrance fee separate from the other park system fees, so that it’s self-sustaining. In other words, it will stand on its own; it will not require tax dollars for operation. Jon explained, “. . . we are already capped with what our current tax is with the millage . . . this project was specifically designed to be a self-starter because all of the seed money is coming from the state, and then we have an operating budget with our goal of having it generate revenue within the first three years of operation; we’re hoping within the first year of operation.”
As for the park’s design, “We are equal opportunity crazy here. We wanted to create a place that is open to all vehicle types,” Jon said. “We didn’t want to segregate the sites.” The complexity of the park will be its greatest draw. From 350-400 foot rise/fall in elevation (between lowest and highest point on the trails) to integrating user specific trails in each section of the park for users from beginners to expert-level riders. The development of the park will reflect anticipated user demographics: 10 percent beginners, 80 percent those who ride for fun with the remaining 10 percent being enthusiasts; there will be something for each user group.
“The secret sauce is that the way you access those areas might be different for different vehicle types.” For example, there might be a 24-inch track for motorcycles, a 50-inch track for ATV’s, and another for side-by-sides in the same region of the park. This will enable all riders access to the same hillside, but in a way that’s specific to each use group. The objective is to provide entertainment along with safety.
“We’ve already held private events on the site, with the expressed objective to show us how the area can/will be used,” John said. They want to know what type of volumes to expect from specific user groups in various locations of the property. They are working out the details now, in 2019, so that the information can be factored in to the park design.
Sound control in terms of loading and unloading vehicles in the parking areas is an outstanding concern.
The park’s accessibility will be season dependent. During the winter months, riders will use the entrance located at Shield’s road near the Consumers complex, with future plans to build a parking lot off of Dixie. Negotiations are ongoing for a proposed 6.39-acre land-swap with Mt. Holly that will provide challenging terrain for a more advanced ski hill for Mt. Holly in exchange for a sections of wooded lands at the East end of Mt. Holly for the ORV park. In conjunction with the land-swap, the Mt. Holly parking lot will be leased for summer access to the ORV park. The existing lot offers 850 parking spaces and good access on and off the ORV property via their boulevard. The lease includes the utilization of facilities to accommodate registration, restrooms, etc.
Motocross guys like to drive vehicle/trailer into the site, close to where they’ll ride. Needs to be figured out. There might be some distributed parking within the sites, vehicle dependent.
A long-term parking facility for large trailers, which will provide drive-to access with ORV. Property just off the bottom that Groveland Township owns. Plans to develop that as a support function for other activities for the ORV park. As an example, a semi-load of off-road vehicles could park there and access the ORV park without ever driving on Dixie or Grange Hall roads.
Groveland Fire Department & Medical Transport will be the first responders and North Oakland County Fire Authority (NOCFA) will be back-up. Groveland is involved with the design of the park, which will provide access of vehicles within 200 feet of any point on the site to minimize hand carry in the event of a serious injury. Numerous access points available for emergency vehicles (existing entry points will be available for emergency use). As per current Michigan park safety standards, park visitors should use a cell phone to request emergency service.
“Safety is good design, it’s good regulation, it’s good communication,” Jon said. The park’s ability to meet the needs of defined user groups is another facet of safety.
The townships impacted by the coming ORV park are working toward an economic development initiative, referred to as the Dixie Byway. Robert explained that its goal is to preserve quality of life and increase economic development. It’s a branding effort to raise awareness for the whole area, including the new ORV park. The goal is for drivers access various points of interest along Dixie Highway in between I-75 mile markers 93 and 106. The townships of Holly, Groveland and Springfield are working toward developing “our local version of Route 66,” Robert said.
Dixie Highway has a lot of history. In the early 1900s, a broad network of connected, paved roads throughout the United States was created to form what was then called Dixie Highway. The Eastern route started in Miami, Florida and went the whole way north to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan . Red and white markings indicated the route. Red stripes with “DH” in white letters marked the route.
The Dixie Byway’s branding will include the nostalgic red-and-white markings in some way for those with establishments or who cruise along the Dixie Byway. And the cruising will be extra smooth. “They are going to repave Dixie Highway all the way through Groveland Township this summer,” Robert said. The repaving project will be completed by August 8 so as not to conflict with the 300,000 people who attend the Renaissance Festival.
While the Dixie Byway is tied to the launch of the ORV park, a 2019 event will he held to kick-off the initiative in the form of a car show. Mark your calendars for October 5; it will be a typical, static car-show event for special interest cars, trucks, motorcycles and even some ORVs. The show will be open to anyone in the area. This event is what Groveland is doing to try to help bring branding awareness “to tie all of our communities together, to make it a better place for everybody,” Robert explained.
Oakland County Parks and Recreation is open to holding private events at the new ORV park site. Contact Jon Noyes, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.
A request for proposals (RFP) has been announced by OCPR. This is a request for partnership opportunities for ORV feature development, sponsorships, special events, and guest services. Questions about the RFP will be accepted until May 23 at 5:00 p.m. All bids must be submitted by June 11, 2019 at 2:00 p.m.
A special open house will be held at the ORV park site (Shields Road at Dixie Highway, Holly, MI 48442) on May 10, 2019. Two sessions are available: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Interested parties must RSVP to attend. Email Andy Krumwiede at email@example.com to RSVP.
The Holly Chamber of Commerce has new membership options, both for existing members, new members and interested community members. Join now and your membership will be good through 2020! http://hollyareachamber.com/becomeamember.html
1Nelson, C. M., et al., Michigan Licensed ORV Use and Users 2010, Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University, July 6, 2010, pg. 11.
2Michigan Economic Development Corporation, “ORV/ATV Riding,” Pure Michigan, https://www.michigan.org/orv-atv-riding, (accessed April 12, 2019).
3Oakland County Parks, “ORV park approved by county commissioners,” Oakland County Michigan, https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIOAKL/bulletins/23b5869, (accessed April 14, 2019).
4Wikipedia contributors, “Dixie Highway,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixie_Highway#Routes, (accessed April 2, 2019).