Fight over New Troy public park rages on
Posted: Feb 7, 2012 9:28 PM EDT | Updated: Nov 5, 2014 6:26 PM EDT
NEW TROY, Mich. - An argument over the use of a public park is raging on in Weesaw Township. It’s over a playground and fields the town bought from River Valley Schools in 2010.
The plan was to replace the old equipment at the park but since the land was bought no progress has been made.
“This is the hole in one of the slides,” said Paul Pantaleo, Weesaw Township’s Parks Department Chairman walking through the dilapidated park on California Road in New Troy. “I don’t want my grandkids going down that slide.”
Pantaleo said most of the equipment in New Troy’s only public playground is decades old and unsafe for children. “With all the rust on (the equipment) a kid could cut their hands up pretty good,” he said. “We would like kids not to use it, which is pretty sad when it’s all you have to offer.”
Weesaw Township purchased the land, which was formerly New Troy High School, from River Valley Schools in 2010. About half the money used came from a Michigan DNR grant. According to Pantaleo, part of the grant agreement was to maintain and improve the land.
Since the purchase no improvements have been made to the park. Pantaleo said he has proposed improvements but the Weesaw Town Council has denied each request. Consistently three of the five members on the board have voted against spending money for improvements.
In a January 31st meeting about the park, the three dissenting members of the board failed to appear.
ABC 57 News reached all three dissenters Monday.
Councilman Jack Jones said he would be in favor of improvements only if the public would vote for a mil to pay for improvements.
Councilwoman Wanda Green said she was personally for improvements but has been voting ‘no’ because the initial purchase of the park was not voted on by the public.
Treasurer Jane Tackett has been voting ‘no’ because some ‘issues’ have gone unresolved. Tackett could not explain Monday what those ‘issues’ were.
Both Councilwomen Irene Oman and Melodie Culverhouse have supported improvements on the park.
“To keep it not being used seems ridiculous,” said Terry Hanover, Founder of Friends of New Troy, a community group that has supported improvements.
Hanover said the public in general would like to see the park improved. Before the January 31st meeting Hanover said he collected 100 signatures of support from the first 100 people he asked about the park. “It’s tough to get any community to get 100 people to agree on the same thing.”
Pantaleo said the park can’t sit much longer without improvements. Half of the money the township spent on the park might need to be paid back to the State of Michigan. “If the township continues to do nothing there’s a possibility the state could say ‘We want our money back.’”