Sizemore: Ypsilanti Township will take new county rec center if Ypsilanti won't
Could Washtenaw County officials turn to Ypsilanti Township for a location to build an east-side recreation center?
County Commissioner Rolland Sizemore Jr. sent to a message to the Ypsilanti City Council at Tuesday night’s Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees meeting: Approve the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission's proposed Water Street Recreation Center plan, or we’re moving to the township.
Sizemore spoke during public comment and requested a meeting with township officials to discuss building the rec center there if the city fails to quickly act on the proposed concept.
Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said the township is interested in hearing a proposal if it doesn’t work out in the city.
Sizemore suggested 13 acres of property that used to be an armory near I-94 and Ford Lake could be a good location.
He told the Board of Trustees he's going to recommend the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Board of Commissioners “scrap the whole deal” with the city and meet with the township “very, very soon” if the city doesn’t move forward with the proposal.
The parks commissioners have their next regular meeting on Tuesday.
The commission is proposing a $10- 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 on which it will make annual payments that will grow to $1.3 million through 2031.
But the project’s proponents have maintained that it will spark the type of development the city desires, and Sizemore said the proposed location on the property is important.
“We feel it will bring business to downtown and I guess (Ypsilanti City Council) doesn’t feel the same,” he said.
He said no one from the parks commission has told city officials that they will take the proposal to the township if it isn’t quickly approved. He said no deadline has been set, but added that he feels the city's deadline has already passed.
“I can understand their hesitation about giving us 8-10 acres to put a rec center in because it comes off their tax rolls, but on the other hand they haven’t got nothing down there now,” he said.
“We, or at least I, look at it as an economic development tool because when you bring people who want to invest in the area, you want to show them there’s a good quality of life, and that’s what this is about; quality of life.”
Sizemore also told the board that time is of the essence.
“If we don’t get a recreation center on this side of the county soon, we’re not going to get one,” he said.
Clerk Karen Lovejoy-Roe said she supported building a rec center in Ypsilanti Township if plans didn’t work out in the city. She said residents on the county's east side deserved one because so much of the taxpayers' money is going towards a rec center that largely serves Ann Arbor.
“I think it’s important that we get our fair share,” she said.