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Plymouth Township Rejects Participation in PARC Project

Board members also voted to refrain from entering into any kind of authority with the City of Plymouth until 2016.

Don Soenen, spokesperson for the PARC Committee, addresses the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees. Photo Credit: Nicole Krawcke
Don Soenen, spokesperson for the PARC Committee, addresses the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees. Photo Credit: Nicole Krawcke
In a move that bewildered audience members Tuesday night, the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees voted 2-5 against participating in the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex Committee's feasibility study to see if the plan to repurpose Central Middle School is viable. 

Trustees Chuck Curmi and Bob Doroshewitz voted in favor of participation, which would have cost the township nothing at this time. Eventually, the project would have called 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.

Treasurer Ron Edwards further outraged residents present during the meeting by making a motion for the township to refrain from entering into an authority with the City of Plymouth until November 2016, when his term expires. The motion passed 4-3, with Curmi, Doroshewitz and Supervisor Richard Reaume casting the dissenting votes. 

Don Soenen, spokesperson for the PARC Committee, said the fight is not over and that he and other PARC committee members will search for other alternatives, but he fears the outcome of the board's decision. 

"I'm afraid the outcome of this is going to be the school district will have no alternative than to auction off that property for development," Soenen said. "We will lose the opportunity to repurpose the school and we will lose those athletic fields and there's nothing we can do about it."

After comparing the cost of other auditoriums alone, Township Clerk Nancy Conzelman said she estimated the PARC project will cost a minimum of $40 million, as opposed to the $25 million the PARC Committee has been estimating.

Conzelman also said the school district should be paying for the project if it wants to keep using the athletic fields, new proposed auditorium and swimming pool. 

"Why should Plymouth Township cover 80 percent of the cost to provide them (Plymouth-Canton Schools) with athletic facilities for their teams?" Conzelman said. 

Edwards said he was disappointed as an elected official when his idea for a recreation center was tossed aside in favor of moving the PARC project along. 

"...It's in the city, I want nothing to do with it, I represent the township," Edwards said. "There's a lot of people that aren't here tonight that have voiced their opinion the other way (against the PARC), some have even said to me a recreation center is not possible. I'm elected to look out for the interests of Plymouth Township, not the city. We have worked with the city on numerous projects and numerous times we've ended up paying the lion's share of the bill and they walk away. I don't want to do anything with the city. I really don't. They owe us money and we're in a dispute over that. We've been in multiple disputes over fire departments and everything else. Its time that Plymouth Township found its path as a separate entity, as it's incorporated, and move on."

Soenen said he will put forth the millage on the ballot by getting signatures on a petition, if he must. 

"I believe its unconscionable that they can take that kind of action and will not even consider sitting down... the concern is they have taken action to preclude the township from entering into an authority with the city until 2016," Soenen said. "That is unprecedented action and just flies int eh face of all logic." 

Despite the setback, Soenen said the PARC meeting is still on for Jan. 27

"This board is completely out of touch with the people in this community," Soenen said. "I don't think they realize how connected the community is to this project. Everybody either went to school there, their kids went to school there,  or their grandkids went to school there - my granddaughter swims there. And if they tear that swimming pool out she's got nowhere to go - the Cruisers have no place to go, the Steelers have no place to play.

"We have the resources, we have the organization and we have the will to take this on," he said. "They have not heard the last of me or this organization, I can assure you that." 

TJP1071 January 15, 2014 at 09:06 AM
I have to say that it is true they are out of sync with the community they serve. I for one will be actively working toward removing these officers who have chosen NOT to work in the best interests of the community they serve come next election. It is time for a new blood, new faces, and people who understand that they were chosen by the people, to work for the people. This is outrageous!
traversj034 January 15, 2014 at 09:36 AM
I applaud our officials for doing this. Some of you are quick to forget that the City left the joint fire department because they were only concerned about themselves. They didn't put the community first, they put Plymouth first so they could save a few bucks. Now, some of you want MY tax dollars to go to the City? No way I'm supporting that. I'll support this project at the exact same time the City starts back up the joint fire department. Regarding the project itself, do we really need another auditorium? The high schools have a couple, Cherry Hill Village has one, the Penn has one. Why not get rid of it and substantially lower the cost of this plan? I just don't see yet another auditorium benefiting the community. Focus on the athletic fields and workout facilities that most of the community would actually use.
soconnor January 15, 2014 at 09:58 AM
"...It's in the city, I want nothing to do with it, I represent the township," Edwards said...I don't want to do anything with the city. I really don't." As someone who has lives in the township and worked in the city for 20 years, I am beyond disgusted with this attitude! In today's economic municipalities cannot "go it alone". While I may not fully support the feasibility of central being converted to a rec center, I see no reason to take the attitude that "we will take our marbles ($$) and go home-forever" this is short-sighted and childish. I am again very disappointed in the attitude of the older members of the township board who are living in the past and not willing to change. I hear & understand their frustration over past issues, but like it or not we are forever connected and NEED to work together. That is part of the job of being elected to the Plymouth Township Board! I believe that unless we find common ground & work together – “Plymouth” will not flourish.
Jennifer Moore January 15, 2014 at 10:03 AM
Did anyone really expect anything else out of Plymouth Township. They don't even treat their own employees well, you think they care about the community at large?
Agent Dale Cooper January 15, 2014 at 12:36 PM
As a 47 year resident of Plymouth I have some thoughts regarding the attitude of some. Township residents are often considered second class citizens by residents of the city. It's a fact. The attitudes of some of these newcomers to the city makes me chuckle. They weren't here not so long ago when Ann Arbor Rd. was 2 lanes, Haggerty was dirt and McDonalds hadn't yet arrived. In short, they fail to see or appreciate the history of the place. Their concern is about appearances and status for themselves, the City. Why, I recall a Plymouth city resident once referring to Trailwood as Trailerwood. They don't remember the time before the McMansions and when homes on Penniman had full size yards and could be purchased for less then 50K. Until the newcomers came to town I never had a reason to consider the city and the township (which by the way came BEFORE the city, before Canton, before Northville...) as separate entities. But some residents of the city have created the schism that is growing between the two entities and as long as they continue to behave as they do it will get worse over time. As much as I may prefer to keep Central out of the hands of developers, I can easily sympathize with those officials who would just as soon tell the city to take a hike.
Samonal January 15, 2014 at 03:01 PM
I don't know what's happened in the past between the City and the Township of Plymouth, but it is far time that our elected officials and long-time residents understand that we desire a cohesive community. ONE Plymouth! To spit in the face of Township residents, as was done last night when they voted to not even LISTEN to the PARC plan, is irreprehensible. This is the example we are giving to our young voters, or soon to be voters. It's a disgrace!
Boiling January 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM
Dale; I have been a resident of this area for 37+ years. Your analogy of the history of Plymouth Twp and this region is certainly biased. Everyone, new and old, should have, and show, community pride. In fact; Plymouth Township and it’s political hacks have always stirred the pot and been less than “Above Board” with their neighboring communities. The history of this goes back to the early 1800’s when they could not get along with their neighbors to the North, now Northville Township who split from Plymouth back then. I applaud the communities “newcomers” and I want to remind everyone that although the old Central Middle School may be in Plymouth City, it’s the school district’s tax payers who paid for it. So when conversation is being generated about the property, the residents in the district need to sit down and talk about it. One thing is certain; if this property becomes surplus, Tricky Rick Snyder in Lansing will move to take the property for his Business friend’s use.
Agent Dale Cooper January 16, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Boiling, 1) review the definition of the word analogy and 2) be aware that when you resort to name-calling particular politicians you reveal your own political stripes.
Boiling January 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM
Analogy: “Similarity in some respects between things that are otherwise dissimilar.” Example: Your thoughts of the past, vs the Historical past. Political Hack: A politician who belongs to a small clique that controls a political party for private rather than public ends.” Example: The current Plymouth Township Board. It’s factual that they have a hard time doing what is right for the community. No name calling, just a fact! I’m really not interested in participating in a diatribe about this with you. The facts are that this was a poor decision (one of many by this Board), and it is obvious by your comments that you are expressing that your feelings have been hurt by the “Newcomers” in Plymouth City, and because of this you don’t want to play with them.

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