PARC supporters want vote on project

PARC spokesperson Don Soenen addresses area residents at Plymouth’s Penn Theater


Feb. 3, 2014  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.


Supporters of the proposed Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC) to be located at the site of Central Middle School in downtown Plymouth attended a second meeting Monday evening to regroup after a recent setback in Plymouth Township.

Two weeks ago the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees, led by Treasurer Ron Edwards, not only rejected a request to join a feasibility study for the community center plan, but voted to abstain from any joint agreements with the City of Plymouth on any project for three years.

During the meeting Monday at the Penn Theater, supporters of the plan, led by 44-year township resident Don Soenen, called the plan a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and strongly supported a ballot issue allowing citizens to decide on the construction of the new community arts and athletic center.

Addressing an audience of several hundred city and township residents who braved bitter cold weather to attend, Soenen set the tone for the meeting theme.

“We do know how to put up a good fight.” Soenen said in his opening remarks.

A brief slide show of PARC goals and objectives to re-purpose the Central Middle School and sustain the cultural and recreational opportunities that have been part of the community for decades was presented by community leaders, including Superintendent of the Plymouth-Canton Schools Michael Meissen.

Referring to the rejection by the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees, Soenen said, “The Plymouth community can’t support two facilities. We are assessing our options “…with and without the township.”

Soenen described the township #13,000 study to determine the need for a recreational fitness center, akin to Lifetime Fitness, as “non-sustainable.”

“A Lifetime Fitness Center would cost about $25 million.” Soenen said. The township has reportedly already sold nearly $1.9 million in bonds to construct a new amphitheater, a year-round park pavilion and other recreational amenities, a separate project from the proposed township fitness center.

“The arts facilities are a key component of the (PARC) project, generating about 40 percent of the revenue,” Soenen said.

Meissen said the school district supports the project to re-purpose the nearly 100-year-old school through the PARC project.

“We represent all the community and all the students and the board wants a peaceful resolution. We hope this can get resolved in a way that is peaceful.” Meissen said.

Plymouth Mayor Dan Dwyer said he believes that all the “great things that happen are done by the community, not by the city.

“All I’m hearing is ‘let-us-decide’,” Dwyer said. “I’m only asking we listen and keep an open mind.”

Representatives from the Plymouth- Canton Steelers junior football league, the Cruisers Swim Team and the Miracle League of Plymouth also asked for support.

In a passionate closing plea, Soenen said, “What we are fighting for is the kids and the quality of life.”

|News Plymouth Michigan

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