Orion Township Speech Combines Light Sabers and Local Updates
(Elizabeth Schanz, May 13, 2022)
Orion Township, MI – In a galaxy not so far away, Orion Township held the state of the township address on “May the fourth” and addressed more than the Star Wars themed date. The address announced key projects that will shape the future of Orion Township both physically and socially.
One of the highlighted projects was General Motors’ four billion dollar investment to convert the GM Orion Township assembly plant to build full-size electric vehicle pickup trucks. This project is part of GM’s overall seven billion dollar investment in Michigan to expand EV capabilities, adding thousands of jobs, including those in Orion.
For the community of Orion Township, this investment is astronomical. The township Supervisor Chris Barnettt, who conducted the State of the Township, emphasized the size of this contribution and the project’s potential.
“If you take every property in our community, commercial and residential, and add them all together you don’t quite get to four billion,” said Barnett, “[GM is] renovating the plant to be the platform of the future.”
To reflect the electric vehicle project, the township is creating charging stations throughout the community. The township has already installed these stations at the new municipal complex and sheriff’s office and plans to build additional stations at all Orion parks facilities by this summer. Similarly, Barnett announced a potential program with veterans to help local businesses install charging stations in their parking lots.
Additionally, Barnett announced the township’s projects to improve recreation and public spaces in the community.
One recent project that the township completed was a new municipal building that opened in 2021, a project that was completed on time, on budget, and without raising community taxes. To further develop the community, the former municipal building will be completely demolished and replaced with a park which reflects communities’ value of outdoor spaces. The park project plans to have three sand volleyball courts, a general sports court that will be converted into an ice rink during the winter.
According to a survey conducted by Orion Township, many residents are satisfied with the parks, an area where investment continues.
Barnett said, “We are raising the bar. We have tons of projects on tap this year alone.”
The town already completed the “Playful Dragon” play structure at Baldwin Road during 2021 and is working to renovate many other facilities across the town. Some of these projects include building a new adult fitness park at Civic Center Park and updating Sheardy Pavilion with upgraded bathrooms and other facilities.
Similarly, to cater to “older kids,” the township plans to build tennis and pickleball courts this summer at Friendship Park.
Barnett said, “Ground will be breaking soon [at Friendship Park] and you’ll be playing pickleball in no time.”
Another development that began in 2020 is the project for an all accessible concession stand which will be called “Home Plate” at Miracle Field in Friendship Park. This concession will employ individuals with special needs. Barnett stated that the project will be completed soon and hopes to raise funds to finish it through a kickball competition called Kicking for a Cause that will be held at Friendship Park on May 22nd.
The township is also working on major infrastructure projects intended to improve the overall transportation within the community starting with completing walking paths and fixing the roads.
One project called “Safe routes to school” will be completed this year. This project will create safe walking paths to all the Orion schools, kindergarten to 12th grade.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity to access grant dollars and millions of grant dollars we accessed,” Barnett said, “It’s been five or six year in the making and this year we are finally completing all of the projects.”
To address the problem of fixing roads within the township, Barnett announced that key roads in the community will be repaved as well as an unpaved section within the community. Some of these roads such as Brown Road, Giddings Road, and Silverbell Corridor that service the GM plant, FedEx, automotive companies, and majiuana companies all will be redone.
Barnett says that currently Orion Township has 6.5 million dollars set aside toward a 24 million dollar project.
Barnett said, “We will fix those roads before that [GM] plant opens.”
Other projects that Barnett noted will shape life in Lake Orion. Some of these developments include building Meijer grocery store that will be built within the town as well as building additional residential areas such as homes and condos. Another addition is the opportunity for residents to participate in a recycling program called Recyclebank. Recyclebank is a rewards system where people can get points for recycling and obtain rewards from local businesses.
And of course Orion would not be a great place without the people who give their time and expertise to making the community better. Supervisor Barnett recognized that of Oakland County’s annual 40 Under 40 honorees, five were from Orion: Vernon Burden of Lake Orion High School, Melissa Ford of Paint Creek Trailways Commission, Kyle Hagen of Orion Twp Fire Department, Bethany Elis of The Kelly Firm, and Dr. Andrew DeHaan of DeHaan Orthodontics.
With many projects in-progress and continual changes within the community, Barnett emphasized that the Orion Township residents could continue to receive information and updates about community projects beyond the State of the Township address. The community members can access further information through the quarterly Orion Living Magazine and the Orion Township website.