HOLLY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Off-roading enthusiasts will have a new vehicle park in southeastern Michigan to take dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and SUVs beginning next summer.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners recently approved a 20-year agreement to jointly manage a 235 acre (95 hectare) off-road vehicle park with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Under the agreement, the state will own the land while the county will maintain and operate the park in Groveland and Holly townships.
The park hasn't yet been formally named but planning for its design is underway. It will consist of former sand and gravel mines for drivers and riders to test their vehicles' hill-climbing and gulley-jumping abilities.
Dan Stencil, executive officer of Oakland County Parks and Recreation, said the county has been discussing a potential off-road vehicle park with the state for more than 20 years.
"The stars finally aligned, and we have a location with easy access, very few neighbors and the property is surrounded by recreation land," Stencil said.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources purchased the property with a $2.9 million grant in 2017. The land sits near Groveland Oaks County Park and Campground. The department plans to run test events on the property this year to help with the planning and design.
County officials expect that roughly 113 acres (46 hectares) will open to the public by July 2020. The park is anticipated to be fully operational by 2023.
"We know people are chomping at the bit," Stencil said. "We are too — we can't wait to open the gates and invite people in. It's going to be a tremendous asset for the county parks system, as well as the local economy here in Groveland and Holly townships."