A visionary playground project to build the region's largest universally accessible play area at Rochester Hills' Innovation Hills park will become a reality with a $200,000 gift from the Moceri family.
Plans for the unique playground, which will include features accessible by visitors of all ages and abilities, was one of the key components developed in the park's master plan. The play area will integrate natural materials, like logs, dirt, tree stumps, grassy hills, sand, natural bridges and streams that haven't been used in parks in the area.
Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said the play area will provide an opportunity for children in the community to learn in a welcoming, comfortable and innovative environment. Children and adults of all ages will be able to utilize the space to connect with nature and tap into their imagination in a way that is more flexible than traditional manufactured playground equipment.
The features, which also connect to a sensory garden, make the park a unique destination for families looking for recreational opportunities that are all-inclusive and sensitive to the needs of children with sensory disorders.
"Our family's passion is to provide enjoyment for all children and adults with disabilities to encourage and empower them to smile, laugh, learn and play," said Dominic J. Moceri, partner at Moceri Homes. "This accessible park and sensory garden will provide innovative features for local families, and we are proud to be part of that."
In November 2016, the Moceri family provided Beaumont Hospital in Troy with the largest donation in the facility's history to develop the Frances and Dominic Moceri Learning Center, a medical training facility, and to develop the Frances & Dominic Moceri Medical Intensive Care Unit.
The park donation will be matched by the city of Rochester Hills, equating to $400,000 in total investment into the play area. The Moceri donation is the largest the city has received for the park's fundraising campaign to date.
"From the beginning, Innovation Hills has been driven by the generous financial support of our residents, businesses and community," mayor Barnett said. "We are thankful for the families like the Moceris who have both visionary leadership and generous hearts that are making this dream a reality."
The city in 2017 received several large donations for special projects at the park, including a $40,000 donation from Scotts Miracle Grow toward the development of the 5,000-square-foot sensory garden; $60,000 from Chief Financial Credit Union toward the development of a unique water wall at the entrance of the park; and an undisclosed donation from the Modetz family, also to be used toward the water wall and additional features near the entrance of the park.
Formerly called Riverbend Park, Innovation Hills contains over 100 acres of undeveloped woodlands, wetlands and prairie habitat. Users discover high overlooks providing views of the Clinton River. As the largest outdoor classroom in the region, Innovation Hills will provide a wide variety of hands-on educational opportunities that promote experiential learning and a long-term appreciation for nature.