Residents’ group opposes recreation plan
Jul. 7, 2014 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
“Lets make it clear, it’s not a small vocal group who’s objecting to this.”
By: Don Howard
Nearly 100 residents who live near Plymouth Township Park met last week at the Plymouth District Library to discuss options and plans to halt a planned amphitheater in the 80-acre park.
Plymouth Concerned Citizens, an ad-hoc group of residents and businesspeople that meets each month to share information and discuss critical issues, hosted the meeting.
The only agenda item at the meeting was a discussion of the impact the controversial township project will have on the lifestyle and property values of homes adjacent to or near the park. Many of the attendees live in Beacon Hill, an upscale subdivision near Ann Arbor Trail east of Beck Road that adjoins the park property and golf course.
Homeowners Chris Hunter and John Stewart addressed the standing room only crowd. Stewart, an attorney, is a former state representative and past township trustee. Hunter, also an attorney, presented a timeline of the events, which led to the current state of the project planned for construction this summer.
Hunter and his wife, Sybil, whose home is adjacent to the township park, recently voiced their concerns to Plymouth Township officials and board members at board meetings and in written correspondence.
Sybil Hunter told the board that such construction in the township park would be nearly in her back yard. She told them her research indicated that the township was acting inappropriately in spending bond funds for the amphitheater and questioned why the township officials would authorize the spending for construction without the approval of voters.
“I do not want an amphitheater in my back yard. I do not want the noise. I do not want the litter. I do not want the activities taking away from the community. I do not want the traffic,” she said at a recent board meeting.
Options discussed during the meeting of citizens last week included seeking legal remedies although homeowners had several questions for the two attorneys. Residents cited the Michigan Charter Township Act 359 which states that bonds shall not be issued for local improvements without the vote of the electors.
Funds for the $1.9 million recreation project, including the $350,000 outdoor amphitheater, a $650,000 year-around picnic pavilion-warming station, improvements to the township owned golf course, footbridge, playscape, spray-scape and other projects came from bond sale approved by a 4-3 vote of the board of trustees.
Bonds are being used to pay for $1.77 million in additional expenses added to the 2013 capital improvement budget. Officials said they could obtain $524,000 in government grants and private and corporate donations toward the projects. The vote increased the township capital projects budget from $785,000 to $2.55 million. Bond repayment will be from general fund tax dollars over the next decade. “It’s all about transparency, said Hunter. “I don’t want to accuse the board of anything.”
“I didn’t know this project existed and the more questions I asked the less I knew and the more insulted I became. From 2010 to 2014 I can’t find any discussion of the amphitheater. The project went from $18,000 to $28,000 to $40,000 and in 2013 to $1.9 million.”
Plymouth Township Trustee Bob Doroshewitz agreed with Hunter that trustees, residents and voters should have been apprised of the depth and details of the project before any building or financial commitments were made.
Doroshewitz, who attended the meeting with Trustee Chuck Curmi said he feels the whole project needs a “critical review.”
“We had no discussion (of the details) until the meeting on April 23, 2013. This was done intentionally. By the time you were informed- the decision had been made. By the time I knew about it, it was a done deal.”
“We need to get back in control…Where’s the fiscal responsibility?”
Stewart questioned the logistics of the project sighting the existing two-lane road traffic control and noise as some of the negatives.
“Where does this fit into the park?” Stewart said. “It doesn’t fit!” The park already offers an array of amenities for community gatherings, including three sheltered gathering places, walking paths, children’s playscape areas, a fishing pond, four baseball diamonds and sledding runs. In addition there’s an 18-hole golf course with a clubhouse and restaurant.
“Lets make it clear, it’s not a small vocal group who’s objecting to this.” Doroshewitz said.