Events at ONA

Visit from State Representative

State Rep. Jon Hoadley will be at the Oakwood Neighborhood Center on October 5th at 1 P.M.

Bring your questions and concerns, family and friends. Light refreshments will be served

Halloween Trunk or Treat

Oakwood Neighborhood Center parking lot
3320 Laird Ave. 342-0129
Saturday: October 29, 2016
4 to 5:30 P.M.
Treats, cider, donuts, and face painting

Neighbors Helping Neighbors Since 1947

Please visit our Facebook Page

Oakwood Neighborhood Association

Our Purpose

To provide a better place for all persons in which to live and to generally act for the good of the community

What We Do

  • The Oakwood Neighborhood Association provides many services including:
  • Provide information on community resources,support networking,and assist in referral for various needs.
  • Publish and distribute our neighborhood newsletter,The Oakwood Times.
  • Improve the overall appearance of the neighborhood with programs such as Adopt-A-Park,Building Blocks of Kalamazoo,Fall &Spring Into The Streets,Oakwood MemorialPark and Springmont James McDivit Tot Lot.
  • Plan community social events and holiday theme parties.
  • Organize activities for youth,family and seniors.
  • Offer after school tutoring and computer IT help drop in.
  • Access to a free library and food bank assistance.

Our Goals

  • Provide a beautiful,safe,friendly,vital neighborhood and to improve the quality of life of its residents.
  • Represent and further the interests and needs of Oakwood and its residents.
  • Promote leadership,responsibility and civic interest among its members.
  • Sponsor events and programs designed to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Oakwood neighborhood.

Automatic Membership

Open to any resident, renter, business manager/owner, or property owner over the age of 18 within the Oakwood Neighborhood.

Contact Us

Do you have questions or concerns about the neighborhood or about ONA? If so, there are several ways to get a hold of us and we would love to hear from you and welcome any feedback.

Get Involved with ONA

Anyone who has walked through the doors of Oakwood Neighborhood Association and felt the warm welcome of those inside will attest that the organization would not be where it is today without the generous love, support, and contributions of its many volunteers. We are always looking for flexible, proactive, energetic, and compassionate people to become a part of the ONA family.

There are numerous ways to get involved with Oakwood Neighborhood Association. From assisting in the office, to helping out a holiday party to writing grants or becoming a member of our Board of Directors, we will work to help you find a perfect match!

For a description of our programs, click here.

If you are interested in volunteering stop in anytime to talk to our Executive Director Cheryl Lord. You can also email her at


We need your help to help keep the neighborhood center going to and to continue our programs. We are looking for volunteers to:

If you are interested in any of these positions, contact Cheryl at the center at 342-0129.

Electronic Newsletter

Would you like to receive the newsletter in your email instead of your mailbox? We are offering the alternative to receive an electronic copy. We will contact you the first of the year each year to determine if you would still like to receive an electronic copy. If you are interested send an email from the address you would like to receive the newsletter to with the subject of E-newsletter.

Photo Galleries

Facebook Photo Galleries



Oakwood Neighborhood actually became part of the city of Kalamazoo in 1957. Since then, the Oakwood Neighborhood Association has been actively involved in serving members of the Oakwood Neighborhood and members of the city of Kalamazoo. This page highlights some interesting pieces of Oakwood's history.

In 1829 Enoch Harris settled on the Genesee Prairie and planted the first apple orchard in Kalamazoo County. The Gibbs, Barnard, and Stevens families contributed greatly to building up the area with log cabins and a hotel.

The first school, known as Toad Hollow School House, was built at the end of Knox Street in 1834. In 1860, the Woods lake area had six houses and a school house within a square mile radius (Gunn, "Your Community Life," 1954).

Around 1895, the Oak trees were cut down to become railroad ties.


In 1893, the Oakland Drive Trolley ran 2.5 miles from the Asylum Hospital to the Oakwood Park.

The grand opening of the Oakwood Amusement Park (then called Lake View) on the south shore of Woods Lake,occurred in July of that same year. People called it "Kalamazoo's Coney Island." The park featured a roller rink, concession stands, shooting gallery, penny arcade, merry-go-round, band stand, dance hall, casino, picnic grounds, beach, boat marina, and balloon launches. In 1907 a roller coaster was built at the park. With the advent of the automobile and the beginning of World War I, the amusement park lost popularity. In 1925, the coaster was dismantled and the coaster cars were rolled into the lake (Henry, The History of Oakwood). Today, homes occupy most of the site around Woods Lake.

There are some great old shots at the Oakwood Amusement Park Postcard Collection with the Kalamazoo Public Library.

An Oakwood area slide show, made with help from the kind folks on the Vanished Kalamazoo Facebook page:

Oakwood History Slide Show


Kalamazoo Web Links

Oakwood Memorial Beach

The Oakwood Memorial Beach is nearly two acres of beach-front property located on the southeast end of Woods Lake. Access is available from the stairs off of Parkview Ave. or via a drive off of Oakland Drive next to Romantica Jewelers. The property includes a connecting walking path to the City of Kalamazoo's Woods Lake Beach Park, a walking path through the "wedge", a swimming beach, fishing spots, a picnic area between the sets of stairs, and a memorial for veterans and other neighborhood heroes at the top of the park on Parkview Ave.

is nearly two acres of beach-front property located on the southeast end of Woods Lake. Access is available from the stairs off of Parkview Ave. or via a drive off of Oakland Drive next to Romantica Jewelers. The property includes a connecting walking path to the City of Kalamazoo's Woods Lake Beach Park, a walking path through the "wedge", a swimming beach, fishing spots, a picnic area between the sets of stairs, and a memorial for veterans and other neighborhood heroes at the top of the park on Parkview Ave.

Policies of the Oakwood Memorial Beach:

  • Beach is open from sunrise to sunset.
  • No lifeguard on duty, swim at your own risk.
  • No camping
  • No alcoholic beverages or glass containers.
  • Dogs are welcome but should be under their owner’s control at all times. Dog owners will yield the swimming beach to those swimmers without pets. Pick up after your pet and dispose of waste in the receptacle at the top of the hill.
  • Fishing is allowed along the area in front of the condos. Fishing is not allowed on the swimming beach.
  • Swim with a buddy
  • Burning is prohibited
  • No Fireworks
  • Place litter in the receptacle at the top of the hill
  • Walk on trails to protect native plants. Please leave signs in place to mark native plants. 

Over the past year numerous volunteers have been diligently working on the Oakwood Memorial Beach to reduce erosion, remove invasive plant species, and plant more native plant species. You will now notice walking paths are outlined with branches and lined with wood chips in many areas. Native plants have been planted along the hill side and at the beach front to stop erosion.

Oakwood Memorial Beach Slide Show

Monarch butterfly on milkweed at the Oakwood Memorial Beach
Monarch butterfly on milkweed at the Oakwood Memorial Beach

Invasive Species- Garlic Mustard

We need your help to remove invasive species. One of the most noticeable plants that you can help remove is garlic mustard. It is identified by the white flowers on top and if you pull the plant it smells strongly of garlic. Please pull these plants and throw them in the trash barrel at the top of the hill. In the slide show above are some pictures of garlic mustard to help with identification.

Bits And Pieces

A Commentary by Pat Henry

Bits and Pieces - March 2016

By Pat Henry

March has arrived  can Spring be far behind –What a joy to see the daffodils’ poke their green shoots above the ground –Snow drops out with the melting of the snow  –Adding green space to Oakwood and the Nature Center--a special gift from Jon Stryker -the land south of Angling – such a pristine piece of nature --- Thank You, Jon.

Our neighbor hood settled in the 1800’s by the Barnards and Stevens-- has seen many businesses - Thomas Barnard advertised lime for sale --- An ice house stored ice from Woods Lake – Oakwood as a community in 1908 added many businesses in the years - the amusement park started in the 1800”s to the beautiful mall and stores of the 21st century---  Some business early  in the neighborhood –the corner of Parkview and Barnard – have been updated but the buildings remain from the early 20’s –On the corner of Parkview and Oakland --where many homes stood in the 50’s - moved to other spots in Oakwood—first a “Karl’s Market - replaced by Hardings and now the current  D & W ---Oakwood  Methodist Church acquired the open field on Kent and Parkview , a gift from the Rev. Irving Minor, pastor of the  church on Amherst - the new church built in the early 50’s - decline of parishioners saw the sale to others and finally the parking lot for D &W  --The NW corner of Parkview and Oakland Dr. in the early 40’s—A dry cleaners – Shand’s repair shop for cars  - later to become the start of the WL Molding Company -  than a bank --Parkview did not go across Oakland – it was the farm land and a produce stand of the Love family – later Parkview went across  and Vine’s  gas station arrived –then the new Junior High School was built on the S W corner on the new Parkview /  Oakland Dr.

In the 30’s and early 40’s Beatties drug store was on the east side of Oakland Dr. snack bar, gas station and a couple of other stores including Bestervelt’s Market ---gas station on corner of Whites Rd. and Oakland – all gone now ---across the Street another gas station that became  the Octagon restaurant serving hamburgers and hotdogs – on the west side still another gas station -  Carrols Variety story was on the  on NW corner of the “trail” that led to the amusement park in the late 1800’s and early 20’s-- belongs to the Oakwood Community –

Into the 50’s the open fields in back of the Octagon restaurant and on Whites Road  to become  the beautiful mall that it now is –starting  first with -- National Foods  grocery store and then Kramers –
Many businesses have vanished from Oakwood – hopefully a book can get published before we run out of time ----

What sad, sad news I am hearing as I write this from my Texas winter home --- our sympathies for this needless slaughter of our Kalamazoo friends and neighbors---

Bits and Pieces May 2016

By Pat Henry

The city has spent the last summer and fall renovating the City Park on the North-East side of Woods Lake – it will be dedicated on the 26th of May 4:30 to 6:30 – it is now complete with a new bathroom facility and a covered pavilion— the path leading to the Oakwood beach dates back many years and has been cleaned up and Michigan native plants and trees have been introduced –Many Kalamazoo residents and friends have many fond memories of the lake from the early 1800’s to now – the dating of their grandparents at the amusement park on the South side of the lake –the swimming at the “City” beach always on the bus line – it was a nice ride from the city – The city of Kalamazoo has owned the park since 1949 and Oakwood side since 1945.

Our Programs

The Oakwood Neighborhood Association offers many programs for seniors, at-risk youth, and families. These include:

  • Building Blocks – Is a collaboration between WMU and six Kalamazoo city neighborhoods. This program brings together neighbors to build a sense of community through working together on projects that improve the look of their houses and the blocks participating in the project. Check out the Building Blocks web site for more information.
  • After-school Youth Tutoring Program – Is sponsored by the City of Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department, This program offers a safe place for school-aged youth to receive tutoring with their homework and a healthy snack with computer time and reading.
  • Senior Activities and weekly drop-in - The seniors meet once a week on Wednesdays at 1PM to play cards, talk, make crafts, play BINGO, and once a month take a field trip to a local destination.
  • Free bread for seniors and those in need - Beginning on Wednesday at 2PM of each week free bread and sometimes produce and pizza are available to those in need in the neighborhood. These items are available through Friday.
  • Weekly Computer Tutoring and Repair - Volunteers are available on Friday afternoons at 1:00 help set up email, teach you how to use a computer, look for a job, set up a smart phone, etc. or to repair your computer.
  • Food Bank – We provide food to residents in need, and work with local churches and resources to supplement what we cannot provide. If you are in need of food, contact  us for more information.
  • Community Garden and Related Workshops - Every year, at 2529 Springmont, we run a community garden. Plants and seeds are donated by local greenhouses and residents. The entire weeding, watering, planting, and harvesting are done communally with everyone involved contributing to the welfare of the garden. For more information or to get involved start following the garden Facebook page.
  • Holiday Food Baskets for those in need are coordinated with Local churches. Contact us for more information.
  • Annual Reunion/Neighborhood Picnic is held the last Sunday of June. It usually starts about 1 P.M.
  • Adopt-A-Park - The association maintains the Springmont Tot Lot which provides a small park for youth to play.
  • Free Book Exchange Library. We have a free lending library with up to date books.
  • Friends of Woods Lake  (FOWL) - The Friends of Woods Lake meet monthly to discuss projects to work on to improve the Woods Lake and Oakwood Memorial beaches.  They also coordinate work days to remove invasive species, plant native plants, and finish other projects. For the spring and summer of 2016 the work days are the third Saturday of each month at 10:00 A.M.
  • The Oakwood Memorial Beach is a green space owned and maintained by the ONA on Parkview Ave. It includes a small swimming beach, areas for fishing, a small trail, and memorials to our neighborhood heroes. Contact the center if you would be interested in helping to maintain this historic green space.
  • ONA World Cafe - The ONA World Café is your chance to tell us what you want to see happen in the neighborhood. This community feedback meeting poses questions to participants and allows them to meet new neighbors and share their ideas in a small, intimate environment.
  • Holiday Parties are provided for Easter and Christmas.
  • Summer Youth Drop-in begins the week after school has ended. It is geared for youth ages 5-13 and goes from 3-5 P.M. Monday through Friday. A small registration fee is requested, however, scholarships are available. Youth 14-18 may volunteer to asset the younger youth.
  • Community Room Use - Our community room is available for birthdays, weddings, and other family events. Contact the center for more information
  • Oakwood History-We maintain and store historic information regarding the Oakwood neighborhood founded in 1908.