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Posted on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Parks and Recreation Commission gives Water Street rec center negotiations more time

By Tom Perkins

Washtenaw County Commissioner Rolland Sizemore Jr is eager to move a proposed eastern Washtenaw recreation center to Ypsilanti Township if the city doesn’t quickly accept the proposal, but the Parks and Recreation Commission has put the brakes on his suggestion.

Sizemore said he urged commissioners at a recent meeting to consider an Ypsilanti Township location, but he said he understands that commissioners still want to give the city more time.

“I think we need to give it some more time,” Sizemore said. “They got a lot of issues in the city with their budget, but I don’t want to wait too long. If we let the momentum slow on this, we might not get it going again.”

There was no resolution or vote on the issue.

City staff and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission director Bob Tetens are scheduled to meet again on Friday to discuss the recreation center. The main sticking points so far have been its size and its location on Water Street.

The commission is proposing a $10 million to $15 million development occupying up to 12 acres on Water Street’s northwest corner. But city council members have said they want to see a smaller center and would prefer it be located on the south or east side of the Water Street property.

The center wouldn’t contribute to the city’s tax rolls, and council members are concerned because the Ypsilanti is facing $31 million in Water Street debt and will make annual payments that will grow to $1.3 million through 2031.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti said Tetens told council in an October presentation that he would like to see a decision made by January, so she didn’t feel like the negotiations or decision-making process was off schedule.

“We feel that we’re on track as far as getting to a point to move forward by January,” Gillotti said.

Sizemore requested a meeting with township officials to discuss building the rec center there at their regular Dec. 6 board meeting. Officials said they were interested in discussing the idea with Sizemore if the proposal didn’t work out in the city.

Sizemore suggested the center go on 13 acres of property that used to be an armory near I-94 and Ford Lake.


E. Daniel Ayres

Sat, Dec 24, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

The Water Street location has a lot going for it. It is centrally located, and therefore closer on average to the largest number of potential users. The land has been vacant in part because of our obsessive focus on "Brown Field Remediation" with its sometimes unbelievably perverted cost structures. I suspect as a "public goood" some of these issues are less likely to be raised in court. On the down-side, the Water Street land was salvaged from a swamp in a flood plain. If/when the Huron River crests way over flood stage, without proper planning and precautions, the proposed investment could be yet another instance of building where nature doesn't want us to be. Elected officials must take these issues into account along with the centrality of the site when planning a public investment. Eastern Ypsilanti Township has a rec center already associated with the golf course off Clark Road. Both Washtenaw Community College and Eastern Michigan University provide semi-private facilities Some have access to facilities at St. Joe's. A lot of different "rental communities" have their own facilities. The Water Street location is close enough for walkers and bicycle riders from seriously underserved areas like the South Side of Ypsilanti, Nancy Park, Depot Town, and Downtown, etc.

Gretchen Ridenour

Fri, Dec 23, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

I recently moved to Depot Town after living in Pittssfield Twp for 23 years. As my family now drives on Michigan Ave, they ask me about that "eyesore" referring to Water St. It's difficult to explain that this land was purchased several years ago but none of it has been developed yet. Even if the proposed Rec Center doesn't generate any tax revenue, it sure would help improve the landscape of eastern Washtenaw County. The empty acreage of "eyesore" does nothing to improve Ypsilanti's reputation.


Fri, Dec 23, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

this is the weakness of a manager/commission style government. Lots of cooks in the kitchen and continual messy processes. Good luck to all but geez, maybe somebody aught to say "yes" and move on with it.


Fri, Dec 23, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

No move it next to the Township Hall in Superior Township. Near all the artificial wetlands. More open space for people or put it on the Frain's Lake Farm Property that the county was deeded.


Fri, Dec 23, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

This area isn't currently providing any tax revenue. The proposed center would draw people into Ypsi and thus increase patronage at the local businesses. This kind of facility and green areas improve safety and positive uses of a city. I don't understand why the city council is holding back.

Thinking over here

Fri, Dec 23, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.

Exactly!!! Put a learning center there, too - drop the kids off, go work out, get something to eat afterwards :)