Pocket Park in Orion Twp Gets Giant “Playful Dragon”
(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 11, 2021)
Orion Township, MI – A small space of land at the corner of Baldwin Road and Jordan has been transformed into a pocket park, with a feature that’s hard to miss – the gigantic “Playful Dragon” play structure.
The bright green creature with the long red tongue for a slide, and wings that are perfect for climbing, was officially welcomed on May 4 with a ribbon cutting.
That same morning local officials gathered with staff of the Road Commission for Oakland County as well as County Executive Dave Coulter to cut the ribbon for the Baldwin Road redesign project. For a two mile stretch between Judah and Waldon Roads, the road was widened to four lanes and roundabouts were added to make the road safer and give drivers a break from the stop and go traffic of traditional lights. Pedestrian safety features were also added to make it a more walkable community. The RCOC handled the heavy lifting of the $3 million project, but a Corridor Improvement Authority was created to capture taxes that would otherwise have gone to the state, to be used for aesthetic features such as landscaping and a decorative fountain that will be turned on through the summer months.
The Authority also helped with the pocket park creation, though much of the project was covered by a grant from KaBOOM! and the Built to Play initiative supported by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, in addition to $65,000 of in-kind work and materials, including support from Plute Homes who are building a neighborhood right up Jordan Street.
The Township was able to purchase the land for only $1.
In addition to the Playful Dragon, the park features a short pathway around the perimeter with a story on signs written and designed by Advanced Placement Students at Lake Orion High School. Animal-shaped footprints along the walkway were donated by Cranbrook.
Garrett Hoffman, President of the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce, was among those on hand to celebrate “It’s great to be part of the community and things like this, bringing the community together,” he said. “That slide’s pretty fast,” he added.
Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett thanked the many people involved in pulling the park together, including staffers who had the vision to apply for the grant. “This is what’s called placemaking,” Barnett said.
“This project, this whole thing, is a perfect example of great teamwork, and putting a little park where people think it doesn’t really fit. This is like an urban type park, we’re close to I-75, but we’ve got all these townhomes that are being built. And if you drive by here on a sunny day, this place is like crawling like there’s ants on it, so it’s really cool.”
Visitors wishing to enjoy the Playful Dragon can park along Jordan Road. Learn more about Orion Township Parks at OrionParks.com.