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Posted on Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 8:40 a.m.

Sizemore: Ypsilanti Township will take new county rec center if Ypsilanti won't

By Tom Perkins

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.


Roger Dodger

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

A Rec Center on Water Street would be a fine addition to the community and will draw more people and businesses downtown. Nobody has shown any serious interest in that location other than a fast-food place I thought, so what is the city waiting for? We aren't getting taxes from the property anyway. Also, i thought Parks and Rec want the Water Street location because it is along the border to border trail.

Blue Eyes

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

and how can the county afford this when I just read another article about the county contemplating putting millage increases on the ballot in 2012 because they don't have anything else to cut? I'd love a new rec center but I'd love to go Hawaii and can't afford that either. Get real or don't get re-elected.

Alex Brown

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

What happened to the plan from about 5 or 6 years ago to build the new recreation center at Rolling Hills Park? Isn't that the one that was being discussed for Water Street? That said, even though Rolling Hills is closer to me I do agree the old armory site is better.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 7 p.m.

This sounds like a great new business for Washtenaw County, Health and Fitness! Why should we think that they can run this business any better then they run the county?


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

They can't run their golf course business successfully. They budget to lose over $250,000 every year. Why? Because they are spending our tax dollars so it really doesn't matter. We pay so much in parks tax that they don't even know how to spend it all. Maybe the county should request the parks department to pay for some sheriffs to patrol the parks. Or contribute to the road commission for services. I know I will vote no to all parks millages as long as they choose to waste $250,000 a year on a golf course


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

First, the site where SESI's was located would be a traffic nightmare. Michigan Ave is already busy enough with traffic and with places like Whitney's Auto down the street and nearly across the street, the Houdini Cleaners "strip mall" and liquor store near by, the empty building where Arnet's use to be, the empty Tyner's Furniture Store building, etc. an $8-10 million building would stand out like a sore thumb. Second, where in the world is the "high income area" in the township? I've lived here for over 7 years and would love to know what area this is. Third, I DO support a new rec center in Ypsilanti Township as it would create jobs, bring people together and hopefully draw new people to the township. I believe this motto to stand true: "BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME!" It would just be a matter of where would be the best location for both resident's of the city and the township.

Concerned Citizen

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:29 a.m.

correction = ford blvd

Concerned Citizen

Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

I strongly disagree about the traffic. The infrastructure in the whole area is WAY underutilized. Ford road has an overpass over Michigan for pete's sake. Just think of how busy it was when that was built. I think we'd be doing pretty well if we can get traffic back to those levels. People can take US-12 if they want to bypass it. There is 4 lanes over by the airport if you haven't noticed.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 7 p.m.

i think he meant the higher housing values, down near Augusta Twp in the very south reaches of Ypsi Twp. the only area within the 2 jurisdictions that is still worth a squat.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

Since when did Roland Sizemore start speaking for the entire Parks & Rec Commission? This loose cannon action deserves to be censured by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. Then he needs to be bounced by the votes. He's a public servant who has spent his entire tenure suckling on the public teat. His time to go has come. And go now!

Martin Church

Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 5:43 p.m.

As a citizen of the city, I say forget water street. we need tax payers to build there, However don't build it at the amory ether. build it on the old SESI Motors lot on Michigan. we need the rec center there not in the high income area of Ypsilanti Township. As for a getto, at water street, better look again. you want a getto try the east michigan cooridor. we lost houseing with the loss of the trailer park, so put the recenter in that area and help us to build this area back up. The township destroyed it now lets rebuild it.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

Where ever it goes? It will be a boon to either the city or the township. Although the city sounds like Ann Arbor. Hem and haw until the deal is done or not. As for the township? I live in the township and would welcome it any day of the year. Although parking will be a nightmare if the city gets it.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

come to the township. my only issue is that traffic would be an even MORE nightmare in that immediate area...


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Sorry City of Ypsilanti, but I think the "old armory" property in Ypsilanti Township is a much better site to build this facility. Close to all of the high-density population centers of (both) the City and the Township ... easy access from Huron/Whittaker or I-94 ... close to the WCSD station on HRD and to YTFD # 4 ... plenty of space for ample parking ... one access point for good control of facility ingress and egress. If the City doesn't want to cooperate with the county - this seems like a no brainer to me.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

I hope the Council does not respond to the strong arm tactic of Roland Sizemore. He has been on the Board of Commission for over 10 years and has little to show for how he has served his community. He represents a district beset by high crime, poor housing, high unemployment, poor educational achievement, and poor health outcomes and the most I've ever seem him advocate for anything is this Rec Center.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

I heartily endorse a recreation center in the Water Street neighborhood.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

If they put that on Water Street, expect a full ghetto establishment. You would need to put a police station right next to it to have any hopes of it not turning into a slum area.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

pretty much everywhere is within walking distance to a ghetto in ypsi. But at least the township has shown it is not afraid of development. the city has some grandiose self delusional image of itself, like it's a happening urban hub. The "urban" downtown they are trying to maintain is currently about 50% vacant businesses. The only things that thrives in the city are prostitution/strip clubs and burger joints. Even if the rec center is built on Water Street, the city will continue to refuse other developments surrounding it.


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 3:49 p.m. do realize that the armory was at the corner of Huron and 94 don't you ? that's within walking distance of the "ghetto"


Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

How is that any different than it is now?