Township remains cool to Central school plan

Dec. 26, 2013  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.


Committee members from the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC) Complex and numerous community residents attended the township board meeting last week to again ask the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees to participate in a feasibility study to save Central Middle School.

Paula Bowman-President League of Women Voters at board meeting.
Paula Bowman-President League of Women Voters at board meeting.

Members of the Plymouth Preservation committee, Women’s League of Voters, Plymouth Steeler Junior Football League, Plymouth Arts Council, teachers from Central Middle School, city and township residents alike lined up behind the podium to speak during the public comments section of the meeting.

The diverse group of about a dozen residents asked for township officials to re-think the options available for a recreation complex at the site of the Central Middle School and to consider the city and township as one community supporting the project.

When one committee member asked for answers directly from board members, Supervisor Richard Reaume immediately rapped his gavel.

“You’re out of order,” he told Deb Madonna as she attempted to poll the board members as to their individual opinions regarding the PARC plan to convert Central Middle School into a recreational and arts compound including an auditorium and multiple community recreation features.

Madonna, president of the Plymouth Community Arts Council and a commissioner with the Miracle League of Plymouth, said, “I’ll probably never speak again at a township meeting. I just can’t believe the kind of response I received.”

Madonna said after the meeting that she only wanted to get an opinion of where board members stood on their participation and was surprised at the aggressive response she received from the supervisor.

Trustee Bob Doroshewitz said he wasn’t sure if Reaume’s objection was to maintain order or an attempt to drown out what Reaume considered to be a disorderly comment by Madonna.

“Is the new rule now that if a member of the public asks a question of the board, the member is not allowed to answer that question,” Doroshewitz asked.”

Don Soenen from the PARC group expressed his dismay regarding Reaume’s vacillating position regarding the Central property.

Soenen told the board members and audience that Reaume offered to have two township individuals participate in the PARC feasibility study, only to rescind that permission a few days later.

The two Reaume selected to represent the township, William Pratt and Keith Postell, are members of the Plymouth Township Planning Committee.

“There must be a misunderstanding,” Reaume told Soenen in an email message soon after the three met.

“I met with the guys for two and one half hours, and I think they thought they were there to participate. Now, he (Reaume) said they were only to report back to him, and to the board,” Soenen said.

Soenen went on to say one of the two township designees was so upset that he wanted to resign his position.

Soenen told the board and audience he was only seeking township cooperation to allow voters to decide on the PARC proposal, which would require a dedicated millage to fund the nearly $25 million plan.

Soenen compared the PARC project with a recently unveiled plan by Treasurer Ron Edwards for a recreation center, located within the borders of the township.

“Our project is different—we already have all the athletic fields in place and we don’t think we can just support a recreation facility…we need to have the sports and the arts…we need a broad base and included will be the school board.

“It would be irresponsible for the city to take this on alone, just as it would be irresponsible for the township,” Soenen said.

The same evening, members of the Plymouth Canton Community Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to support the PARC plan. The building and adjacent 18-acres of land are currently owned by the school district.

Reaume said the board will meet again on Jan. 7 for a study session, and the PARC project will be on the agenda.

|News Plymouth Michigan

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