Setting the tone: Attorney relishes role with regional park system


Jaye Quadrozzi (center) took part in the Macomb County Bicentennial Torch Relay in 2018, a 200-mile event that traversed the Stony Creek and Lake St. Clair Metroparks along with a host of other county communities. Flanking Quadrozzi in the photo were Metroparks Commissioner John Paul Rea (left) and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
(Photo courtesy of the HCMA)

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

The pain of the pandemic has produced a few pluses along the way, perhaps most notably a decided uptick in the use of another word beginning with the letter “p.”

Regionally, one of the beneficiaries has been the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA), a system of 13 park properties in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenawn and Wayne counties.

“The pandemic, I believe, has given virtually everybody a different perspective on life as well as a greater appreciation for the outdoors, particularly the incredible number of parks we have in our communities,” said Jaye Quadrozzi, who last summer began a two-year term as chair of the HCMA. “In the first year of the pandemic, especially after the lockdown was lifted, people were very eager to get outside and to explore nature again. And what better place to do that than our parks.” Of course, initially there were a few bumps that park-users encountered along the way, Quadrozzi indicated.

“Early on, the golf courses and the pools had to be closed because of the lockdown and normal group activities also were curtailed,” Quadrozzi said. “We also had to close our restrooms because – like just about everyone else – we had trouble getting toilet paper. But once some of the restrictions were lifted and we regained a sense of normalcy, our parks were bustling with activity as people came out of their homes and back into the world again.”

One of the principal shareholders in the Farmington Hills law firm of Young, Garcia, & Quadrozzi, the University of Michigan Law School alum is just the second woman to lead the HCMA in the park system’s 82-year history. The significance of her new leadership role was driven home by Quadrozzi upon her election to the chairperson’s post.

“I think it is incredibly important that women be given opportunities to serve on boards of directors,” said Quadrozzi, who has been Oakland County’s representative on the HCMA Board since 2013. “If you are not on the board, you will never have the opportunity to lead the board. It has been nearly 40 years since the HCMA Board has had a woman as its chair, and that is a direct result of the lack of women appointed.”

Several months after becoming chair, Quadrozzi was instrumental in organizing an all-day retreat for the seven-member board, which includes a representative from each of the five counties in the system as well as two gubernatorial appointments.

“Our Executive Director Amy McMillan strongly recommended a retreat so that we could devote time to strategic planning, to help make sure that we chart a path for the future of the park system,” Quadrozzi related. “We are trying to be mindful of the importance of being proactive instead of reactive, and to guarantee that our parks will be here not only for our children, but for our children’s children.”

Born and raised in Mt. Clemens, Quadrozzi landed her first job at the Metro Beach roller rink at the age of 16. A year later, she served as a Metroparks lifeguard and spent several summers working at Metro Beach on the shores of Lake St. Clair. A veteran of 21 marathons, Quadrozzi also is a triathlete and regularly does her endurance training at Kensington and Stony Creek Metroparks.

“The trails in our park system are outstanding, and offer safe and beautiful paths to walk, run, and bike,” Quadrozzi said. “You can literally go for miles and miles on paved, scenic trails that feature some of our beautiful waterways.”

Providing increased access to the parks has been a focal point for Quadrozzi during her first year as chair.

“There are so many households in our service area without cars, and so many millennials who have opted not to use cars, that we are working to enhance public transit options for those wanting to enjoy our parks,” said Quadrozzi.

She also is helping spearhead a push by Huron-Clinton Metroparks to promote swim lessons across Metro Detroit, partnering with the City of Detroit to offer classes.

“Again, there are so many people in our community who do not know how to swim, which obviously serves as a barrier to their full enjoyment of all the water activities that are offered,” Quadrozzi said. “We are trying to help rectify that.”

In addition, Quadrozzi said that HCMA officials are dedicated to “removing barriers” and “creating and improving access” to its extensive trail system, ensuring that continued improvements “meet or exceed ADA requirements.”

Quadrozzi credits Executive Director Amy McMillan and “her amazing staff” for their work on a series of recent capital improvement projects that “have added greatly to our offerings” in the Metropark system.

“We’ve made some significant upgrades to our hiking and biking trails, added playgrounds at Kensington and Lower Huron, and are in the process of adding a dog park at Stony Creek Metropark.”

Plans also are in the works for a new park office at Willow Metropark, while efforts continue to improve the water quality at Lake St. Clair Metropark’s beach.

“We, as a board, are working jointly with other governmental units to address some of the flooding problems that plagued the area last summer,” Quadrozzi said. “We are trying to find ways to safely divert storm water runoff so that it doesn’t end up in basements.”

HCMA Executive Director McMillan praised Quadrozzi for fostering such a cooperative spirit and for promoting a “can-do attitude” among board members.

“Under Chairperson Quadrozzi’s leadership, this board has taken a hands-on approach to solving problems and will be known as one of the best boards in the history of the Metroparks,” said McMillan. “Her enthusiasm is infectious, and she possesses a special ability to establish goals and then to reach them in a timely and efficient
manner. We are very fortunate to have such a leader. All of us have learned so much from her.”


Subscribe to the Legal News!

Full access to public notices, articles, columns, archives, statistics, calendar and more

Day Pass Only $4.95!
One-County $80/year

Three-County & Full Pass also available