Royal Oak neighbors upset after construction work spills into beloved park

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) - Some neighbors in Royal Oak are demanding answers from the city after finding one of their beloved parks turned into a parking lot for heavy construction equipment.

The Royal Oak Beverly Hills Improvement Association adopted Fries Park at Greenfield and Normandy roads two years ago. Neighbors planted trees in the green space and maintain it throughout the year. But residents were unnerved last month when they noticed construction vehicles moving in, digging up topsoil, and even razing trees.

"We take this very seriously. We love our neighborhood, it's a beautiful place to live," association president Ted Page said.

Royal Oak officials told residents Fries Park is being used as a temporary staging area for construction vehicles during the water main work underway on Greenfield Road. What residents didn't know was that included creating a holding area for muddy debris water, too.

"Whatever it is they couldn't put it down the drain, so they're gonna put it in my park instead. It's just upsetting," Page said.

It drew so much ire that another neighbor posted pictures of the dumping in a blog post that was shared by The Huffington Post.

City engineer Matt Callahan assured the debris water is harmless, and that the park is serving only as a temporary storing area.

"We're calling it mud, it's not sludge. It's existing soils from underground where we're building the water mains," Callahan explained.

"I don't think anyone would want to have that in their front yard," Page said.

Callahan also explained the city let contractors use Fries Park under the condition they will restore the park and build up the ground for better drainage. He said trees will be replanted at the park, including a flowering crab apple tree neighbors were upset to see uprooted

Callahan said water main work is expected to be completed within the next several weeks, and restoration work at Fries Park should begin within a month. He said neighbors should be able to enjoy the park again this summer.

In the meantime, he said people can email or call the city engineer's office at 248-246-3260 with any questions or concerns.

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