2023 State of the Township Address
Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett delivered his 10th State of the Township address Wednesday morning at Woodside Lake Orion. Set to a Monopoly theme, Barnett shared the countless ways the Orion Township community is “winning,” emphasizing the people, partnerships, and planning efforts that continue to set Orion apart in North Oakland County.
Barnett outlined the community’s strategy for winning as “great people, excellent schools, a thriving economy, a strong vision for the future, key strategic partnerships, add some heart, mix in some key wins along the way, and lots of fun!”
Barnett brought back five-year’s worth of Frugal Index slides from previous years’ State of the Townships, asking the audience to keep this in mind throughout the presentation. “This is my favorite part of the presentation every year,” he said. “We provide services more efficiently and less costly to our residents than all of our neighbors.”
To kick-off the presentation, Barnett highlighted the awards and recognitions the Township has received in the past year, showcasing the state and national recognition Orion is receiving on all fronts.
Bringing Wins Back to the Community – Awards and Recognitions
• APWA 2022 Project of the Year – Baldwin Road Reconstruction
• 2023 Great Lakes Park, Facility, & Program Award – Miracle Field
• 2022 Outstanding Achievement Award for Community Vitality, America in Bloom – Orion Township
• Michigan Green Communities – GOLD
• Better City for Pets
• Tree City USA – Year 3
• University of Michigan eCities – 5 Star
• 2nd Safest Community of our size in Michigan
Thriving Local Economy
It’s been one year since the GM announcement of the major $4 billion investment in the Orion Assembly Plant, which includes significant additions and upgrades to the facility for the electric Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. After a short video showcasing representatives of GM and UAW 5960, Barnett provided an update on the Township’s efforts to support the construction at Orion Assembly, reinforcing the Township’s vow to GM “We won’t let you down.”
A key piece to this promise is working to secure the remaining $10 million in funding needed to for the $28.5 million reconstruction of the Giddings/Silverbell/Brown Road Corridor.
Sharing the spotlight with GM, Barnett recognized other commercial and residential developments either under construction or with groundbreakings occurring later this year:
• Meijer Grocery – now open on Lapeer Road
• Kay Automotive Graphics, now KPMH-ORAFOL – under construction. An 84,000 square foot, $50 million investment. “Orion Township has been helpful and business friendly as our partner in this development effort.” Said David Duggan, Managing Director Kay Companies, “We are excited to continue our growth and share that growth with the local community.”
• Hyatt House – under construction on Brown Road.
• Culver’s Lake Orion #2 – under construction on Brown Road.
• Willow Creek – 15 building/104-unit multi-family community, located at the old Willow Creek Driving Rank on Lapeer Road.
• Rigel Terrace – 17 building/101 townhomes, located on Lapeer road just north of Home Depot.
• Waldon Reserve – 15-unit, single-family condominiums, located on the south side of Waldon, east of Giddings.
• Lavender Ridge – multi-family community located on the corner of Squirrel and Silverbell Roads, featuring 75% open space and parklands.
• Ponds of Orion – 10 building/44-unit, multi-family community located on the south side of Clarkston Road, between Lapeer Road and Bald Mountain Road.
• The Pearl – 15 building/104-units, multi-family community with 33,000 square feet of small neighborhood retail, located on Brown Road.
• Baldwin Village – mixed residential and commercial with a grocery store and restaurants, as well as townhome and apartment living.
Building the Township’s Brand – Where Living is a Vacation
From 2019 going into 2024, Orion Township has invested over $6 million in parks. All investments have been made based on the resident input used to craft the Parks & Recreation Master Plan – of which 94% has been complete. “You asked, we delivered!” said Barnett. Barnett announced that public input opportunities occurring April through November, for the 2024 Parks & Recreation Master Plan update.
“What I call the Orion Advantage – our amazing amenities” Barnett said as he introduced new park amenities that will be coming to Orion this year.
• New gateway and park signage
• Community planters
• Skating rink at Civic Center Park (open in the winter)
• Fitness Course at Civic Center Park – opening this spring.
• Pickleball courts at Civic Center and Jesse Decker Parks, now open.
• Wildwood Summer Concert Series – stay tuned for the summer line-up announcement.
• Friendship Park community room updates and road improvements
• Sand Volleyball Courts at Civic Center Park
• Camp Agawam beach expansion, accessible kayak launch, and Peterson Lodge renovation
• Orion Center Event Deck – made possible with a $250,000 grant from Oakland County.
Lots of Heart
Barnett then introduced the final key to Orion’s winning strategy “our heart, we care” he said as he highlighted the continuation of the Forgotten Harvest program that started during the pandemic and is now on its third year. In addition to Forgotten Harvest, Woodside started the Village Pantry to further assist community members in need of food resources. Barnett announced Meijer has donated $10,000 to the Village Pantry and will continue to make donations through July.
Barnett then announced the official formation of the Orion Community Foundation. “The Orion Community Foundation has been a dream of mine for several years,” he said. “ It is a non-profit serving the needs of the Orion Community and is being started with a donation of $50,000.” More information on this new charitable organization will be shared later this spring.
Our Winning Formula
Barnett ended his presentation with the Frugal Index, reminding everyone that Orion is doing more with less. “We are having more fun than we should be allowed to have, and doing all this for less!” he said. “I’ll ask again, is Orion winning? We are winning! And we aren’t done yet!”