Camp Dearborn $6 million renovation study ongoing

By SHERRI KOLADE
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. wants Camp Dearborn in Milford to get a facelift for practical reasons that may increase camp revenue, which could lead to self sustainability.

“We just need to restore (its) luster and get the camp back to a place where it becomes a destination and people say, ‘That is where I want to go,’” O’Reilly said.

During recent meetings with Camp Dearborn stakeholders, O’Reilly and city officials presented a camp feasibility study, conducted by Ann Arbor-based Carlisle Wortman Associates Inc., with a goal in mind of making the camp more appealing and self sufficient.

Last year in March, city councilors approved the Camp Dearborn feasibility study during a City Council meeting.

On March 13, O’Reilly and city officials met with Friends of Camp Dearborn and on Feb. 28 with the Milford Planing Commission to discuss the details of the $6 million renovation plan, which needs approval first from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and subsequently City Council members.

Recreation Director Greg Orner said he should hear back from MDNR officials soon.

“We’re hopeful for a meeting within the next 30 days,” Orner said.

The camp’s five-phase development and improvement plans include the possible sale of 40 acres in the northwest portion of the camp, which would be rezoned into residential property in Milford. The cost for rezoning is $1.3 million if the Planning Commission grants the rezoning approval and Dearborn residents vote for the sale.

The second phase involves the construction of 15 additional resort cabins, a zip line and an adventure course with designated trails within the camp at a cost of $1.1 million.

The third phase involves adding beach improvements with a cost of $529,950.

The fourth phase involves overall camp redevelopments — a cost of $2.3 million. The fifth phase will be the addition of more campsites for a projected cost of $704,720.

Total camp improvements will cost an estimated $6.16 million.

A specific timeline has not been finalized to start renovation if the proposal is approved.

Milford Township Supervisor Don Greene, who attended the Feb. 28 meeting, said he thought the feasibility study presentation was “really good.”

“They answered all the questions and were upfront,” Greene said. “I think the plan is a very reasonable way to take care of the upgrades.”

Greene said the next step for Milford officials is to wait for Dearborn’s next move. Afterward the Milford Planning Commission will recommend a “yes” or “no” vote for the renovation proposal to Milford Township Board members.

“I don’t see anything (happening regarding the renovation proposal) until the city of Dearborn votes on the (40-acre land) issue,” Greene said.

Greene said he has communicated with O’Reilly and former Dearborn mayors about camp improvements. He said since O’Reilly has taken over he has seen improvements he described as a “bang-up job.”

“The improvements make the camp more pleasant to go to,” he said.

The study revealed that more improvements need to be made, an assertion O’Reilly agrees with.

“We see it as a family campground that people will come back to a lot because we have the right amenities that can meet their needs,” O’Reilly said.

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