Officials break ground on $5.3 million Community Park.

June 9, 2022

Former Oceana County Commissioner Larry Byl, Oceana County Commissioner Craig Hardy, Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast, Community Foundation for Oceana County CEO Tammy Carey, Oceana County Commissioner Phil Morse and Shelby Township Clerk Marilyn Glover break ground at the new Community Park.

Officials break ground on $5.3 million Community Park.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

SHELBY TOWNSHIP – Officials and community members  broke ground on the new Community Park located in the center of Oceana County on Buchanan Road near 72nd Avenue Thursday, June 9.

Shelby Township Clerk Marilyn Glover, Community Foundation for Oceana County CEO Tammy Carey, Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast, Oceana County Commissioner Craig Hardy and Oceana County Commissioner Phil Morse break ground.

The 36-acre Community Park located adjacent to the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail is designed to promote the physical and psychological health of Oceana County residents. It will be a meeting place for families and organizations to connect.

The park will be built in two phases. The first phase includes building the soccer fields, one softball field and restrooms. The second phase will include additional soccer fields, playscape, another softball field, and the pickle ball courts. 

Phil Morse addresses the audience.

“This will be a one-of-a-kind park not only for Oceana County but for west Michigan,” said Community Foundation for Oceana County CEO Tammy Carey during a speech in front of the crowd that gathered for the event. “It will rival parks that our urban neighbors build.”

The park will provide a mental health break for community members, said Oceana County Commissioner Phil Morse, who is the New Era Christian School principal, as he addressed the audience. “It’s another option for our students — our kids — not to be on a screen.”

“We’re moving dirt in a couple of weeks,” said Shelby Township Supervisor Richard Raffaelli during an interview with OCP prior to the ceremony. “In Phase I, we will get four fields ready for use next year. While those fields are being used, we will get more fields ready for the following year. So, at the end of 2024, the park will be in full operation. It will be at half operation in the spring of 2023 and full operation by the fall of 2024.”

Half of funding to pay for the $5.325 million project has been secured, but more funds are needed to pay for the rest. “We’re still looking for donations,” said Raffaelli. “The price went up because of the pandemic due to the supply chain by $1.2 million. We’ve got several state and federal grants out there pending. We received a DNR grant for half a million dollars. We’ve got about $3 million in grants that we applied for.”

The park will be “non-stop shopping” for people of all ages, said Raffaelli, with everything from play scapes for infants and pickle ball courts for more mature

Tammy Carey speaks to the crowd.

park users. 

The park will feature a family picnic area and an outdoor arena for movie nights or concerts in the summer. 

The park will be fully-ADA compliant and follow “strong environmental practices,” he said. There will be charging stations for electronic vehicles, and Raffaelli said he is trying to secure utility company involvement to procure solar panels. A community garden and pollinator fields will also be developed. 

“We really want this to be the gathering spot for the community. We’re really in the middle of the entire county. It’s going to be a place for people to come and visit and enjoy. It’s beautiful out here.”

Private donations have also been instrumental in making the park a reality. If you’re interested in donating to the park fund, contact the Shelby Township office at 231-861-5853.

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