Board refuses to delay amphitheater
Eco-sensitive site of new amphitheater in Plymouth Township Park, surface damaged-bearing numerous holes after drilling rig breached the property in July. Scheduled construction and required grade changes will likely further alter water run-off. Plymouth Township officials ordered the core samples in the protected area, a sub-watershed of the Lower Rouge River.
Sep. 1, 2014 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
“I understand change is part of life in the township. I look forward to change and I look forward to changing this board.”
By: Don Howard
When Plymouth Township resident Jackie Peters emailed Supervisor Richard Reaume asking why the controversial amphitheater project couldn’t be delayed until a promised recreation survey was complete, she didn’t expect the response she received.
In her email, Peters urged Reaume and other board members to reconsider their decision to build the $350,000 amphitheater in the Township Park.
“As a resident of Plymouth Township, I am urging the Board to reconsider their decision to build an amphitheater in the Township Park. We do not understand why this action is being taken without the support of the public,” she wrote to Reaume.
The hotly contested 300-seat amphitheater and bandstand project is part of a $2.5 million capital improvement project board members approved last year. The township sold $1.9 million in bonds to pay for the majority of the project. Last year, township Treasurer Ron Edwards budgeted $50,000 for a recreation survey but to date no public opinion poll has taken place.
In recent months hundreds of irate residents and concerned citizens, many with homes adjacent to the park, purchased lawn signs, wrote letters, signed petitions and filled the township hall board meetings saying they were not consulted and the project is not suited for the area or the roads and infrastructure. Residents have complained about the likely noise and congestion from the amphitheater and about the cost of the project.
Reaume’s reply to Peters angered her, she said.
“Thank you for your email. The architect has a contract for their work, the soil borings have already been contracted and completed and the environmental evaluation has also be paid for and is currently being evaluated by the DEQ.”
Trustee Mike Kelly also questioned the project during a regular board meeting last week. He described the amphitheater project as “a bad fiscal policy.” Kelly made an official motion to delay the project until completion of public recreation survey.
“Just because we can spend money without raising taxes seems to ignore the basic question we need to answer: What do the people of the community really want? Since this project has not started construction yet, it should be put on hold until we complete the recreation survey. To build projects and take on added debt with no data showing the people want these type of projects is bad fiscal policy.”
“I move to place the amphitheater on hold until we have the results from the Township Recreational Survey showing the desire for this project from the residents before moving forward on the project.”
Township officials placed Kelly’s request last on the agenda on page 461 of the 536 page board packet. Trustee Bob Doroshewitz, noting the large crowd of residents in attendance, made a motion to move the amphitheater discussion forward, but it was defeated by a 5 to 2 board vote.
“We need to listen to the community…I’ve seen a public out-cry like I’ve never seen before,” said Doroshewitz in an impassioned plea for approval of Kelly’s motion.
“If we ask them…and put together a credible survey, that’s the only way this controversy is going to go away. We’re up for a fire and police millage next year. There’s no downside to putting it on hold.”
Trustee Kay Arnold thought differently.
Citing the past construction of a play-scape, soccer field, dock at the pond and improvements to the golf course, Arnold said, “Nobody complained then.” Arnold referred to the dissident residents as the “same people who complained about the fire department” and said, “change is part of life in the township.”
Edwards said he didn’t see any reason to “stop it.”
“There was a bond issue, and no one opposed it…they could have got signatures. We’re moving forward…we’ve got the money,” Edwards said.
Kelly’s motion was defeated by a 4 to 3 vote. Kelly, Doroshewitz and Trustee Chuck Curmi favored the delay while Reaume, Edwards, Clerk Nancy Conzelman and Arnold voted against any delay in the project.
Arnold was later chastised by Chris Hunter, one of the residents strongly opposed to the amphitheater project. “I understand change is part of life in the township. I look forward to change, and I look forward to changing this board,” Hunter said to loud applause from the audience.