PARC Advocates Work to Boost Support for Recreation Center

PARC Supporters hope to change the minds of Plymouth Township Board members after they voted not to participate in the project.

Draft of the proposed PARC project. Photo Credit: Don Soenen
Draft of the proposed PARC project. Photo Credit: Don Soenen
In spite of freezing temperatures, more than 300 people braved the cold to attend the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex (PARC) meeting at The Penn Theatre on Monday. 

Community members were updated on the project itself and where the PARC Steering Committee stands with Plymouth Township after board members voted not to participate in a feasibility study then voted again to not enter an authority agreement with the city until November 2016. 

"They've really put us in a difficult spot, put the project at risk with the actions they took," Don Soenen, spokesperson for the PARC Committee, said. "To vote to not even talk to us, then secondly to vote to not enter into any authority type agreements with the city for the next three years, that was targeted specifically at this project."

Plymouth-Canton Schools will close Central Middle School in 2015. The PARC plan includes preserving the core part of the middle school that dates back to the 1920s along with additions such as a new swimming pool, fitness center, athletic fields, art studios, an auditorium and more. 

[Click here to see a draft of the PARC brochure.] 

The PARC Committee eventually intended for the township to form an authority with the city, similar to the library, in order to own and operate the PARC complex going forward.

Soenen said the next steps are to drum up community support and work hard to convince Township Board Members to reconsider the project. 

"We've got to build a tremendous amount of community support to be able demonstrate that this community really wants to do this, and I think then the board has to reconsider its decision," he said.

However, the situation has forced the PARC Committee to lay out its plans prematurely, according to Soenen. 

The plan was to go to the public this July with a business plan that had input from all parties. By waiting until summer, the committee would also be able to present the appraisal from the school district on what the property is worth along with a better definition of what the product will be. 

Soenen said he hopes to try and get the situation with the township resolved.

Not the township's decision

Soenen said the voters are the ones who need to decide the issue, not board members. 

"...Let the voters decide," he said. "And then if the voters turn it down, I'm fine with that, I'd be disappointed, but I'd be fine with that... They (Board members) have taken a strong position against it for whatever reason. But don't stand in the way of letting the voters of Plymouth Township decide on something of this magnitude.

"It's unfortunate that our elected representatives aren't representing our interest in that property," he added. "That's got value - it's a valuable asset and that taxpayers own it. I think our elected officials have an obligation to represent our interests and make sure that property is disposed of in a manner that's in the best interests of the taxpayers, including the township."

In the meantime, the committee is looking into what can be done with the township, but is also looking into ways to do the project without the township's participation, Soenen said.  

"The steering committee and various subcommittees are as committed as ever to this project," Soenen said. "We are really passionate about seeing this thing through - and we'll find a way to get it done. It may not be the easiest route, but nobody's losing any faith, I can tell you that."


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