By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford Township Parks & Recreation Office, stationed inside Seymour Lake Park at 2795 Seymour Lake Road, re-opened their administrative offices for business on Monday, June 15. The following Monday, June 22, the offices opened back up to the public.
Responsible for maintaining and overseeing four local parks, Oakwood Lake, Powell Lake, Seymour Lake and Stony Lake, the offices have taken some safety precautions for the time being.
If looking to venture inside the administrative offices, guests are required to sign-in when they arrive, and a plastic insert has been hung from the ceiling between guests and the employee working the welcome desk. As is the case at most local establishments, masks are not required but are encouraged.
“The parks never closed to the public, but it’s been pretty slow because we don’t have any programs,” Parks & Recreation Director Ron Davis shared.
“We have line dancing and stuff like that, but our typical summer camp, softball, all that stuff has been canceled. So, I don’t know what the fall is going to look like until we find out what the governor (Gretchen Whitmer) is going to do. We’re preparing for fall programs in August, September and October, November, but you never know.”
While the Oxford Fastpitch Softball Club, run by the township, has been canceled for the year, the diamonds at Seymour Lake will still receive plenty of use from the North Oakland Baseball Federation (NOBF).
With the NOBF being an outside organization, all Seymour Lake is responsible for is renting the fields to the individual teams and preparing them for play. Beginning their season earlier in June, six local Oxford teams compete in the league across four age levels.
Coached by Joe Cassise, the Zappen Oxford program plays in the Richard Powell eight-and-under (8U) division and will play their first game at Seymour Lake on July 14.
At the Willie Mays 10U level, the Oxford Wildcats deploy two teams, managed by Jason Burns and Nick Hagewood. Burns’ team will play four games at Seymour Lake from July 7-28, and Hagewood’s troops have three games in a four-day span at the facility from July 6-9, followed by four more later in the month.
The Pee Wee Reese 12U Wildcats, headed by Greg Kemenah, will take the field at Seymour Lake even sooner, playing their first of nine games on July 2. Like at the 10U level, Oxford fields two teams at the Nolan Ryan 13U level, as well, with Tim Fox serving as the skipper for the Wildcats’ “Blue” team and Matt Bennion calling the shots for the “White” squad.
Each of the 13U teams are scheduled to play nine games at Seymour Lake, with Fox’s boys beginning on June 29 and Bennion’s two days later, on July 1.
“It’s been a huge revenue loss for us without soccer and softball,” Davis said of the effect of the cancelations. “We’re just making cuts where we can, you know? We laid one person off, so we’re trying to make provisions and be fiscally responsible, which this department has always been. Luckily, we were in good shape financially going into this, so the residents shouldn’t see an impact.”
Seymour Lake features, in addition to their eight baseball and softball fields, four lighted tennis courts, eight soccer fields, an 18-hole disc golf course, a waterpark area, known as the “Splash Pad,” two sand volleyball courts, and a basketball court.
“We pride ourselves on providing marquee facilities,” said Davis, who has been with Oxford Township Parks & Recreation since 1995.
“We just ask people to be patient with us. We’re down three or four seasonal guys. We didn’t hire any of them because of the cutbacks, so me and some of the other office staff have been out helping, weed whacking, mowing lawns, doing whatever we need to. You can’t just flip a switch and get 500 acres of parkland ready to go. It’s going to take some time, but the guys are working diligently.”
Staying with this theme, Davis asks any residents with questions or concerns to give their offices a call or stop in and see them.
“If people have a complaint, call us,” he offered. “Don’t go on Facebook, let us know what the issue is. We’re working with a downsized staff this year because of the virus (COVID-19), but call us, or shoot us an e-mail. The last two or three times people have put stuff on Facebook, it’s been totally false. So, if they would’ve called us, I could’ve said ‘Well, this is why that’s happening.’
“If you have questions, we work for you, just call us. If we can fix it, we will. If we can’t, there’s a reason why we can’t do something.”
Looking ahead to the fall, Oxford Township is preparing for their youth soccer league, as well as several community enrichment and senior citizen programs. Additional information regarding these offerings is available on their website, oxparkrec.org, or the offices can be reached via telephone at 248-628-1720.