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Officials, residents discuss potential for new twp. hall

March 26, 2014 - In light of the recent roof leaks and flooding issues at the Addison Township Hall, officials took their first step in determining whether constructing a new building or repairing the current facility would be the smarter choice.

At the March 17 township meeting, the board voted 5-0 to "authorize administration to create a draft agreement and specifications for an architect approved by legal and bring (it) back to the board for review/modification/approval to seek bids." Trustees John Boehmer and John Sutphin were absent.

"For setting the specs up, we'll contact an architect and have him tell us what we should, first of all, be looking for. We'll rely on the professionals for that," said Supervisor Bruce Pearson. "They'll tell what land mass we have here, what structural needs we have, septic-well needs, different things like that. There are a lot of things a professional is going to have to tell us what we need here either to update (the building) or to repair it. They'll come back with a study and say these are your two options."

Voice of the people

While the township is only in the "seeking more information" stage, residents have already started voicing opinions both for and against the idea of a new township hall.

To get a feel for what residents think, Pearson asked for an informal vote of the public at the Annual Township Meeting held March 22. Of the 35 residents present when the vote took place, 34 voted in favor of constructing a new building, while former township Supervisor Bob Koski voted no.

"I don't think we need a new building," said Koski during the public comment portion of the meeting. "Something of that magnitude should go to the voters for approval."

Resident Ellen DeLater, who was not present for the vote, disapproved of a new building as well and believed it should be the public's decision to make.

"We don't need the Taj Mahal," she said. "There is no reason we can't fix (the current hall). There is no reason we need to have all of this (new) stuff. If you don't maintain this one, you're not going to maintain the new one. Again, it's going to cost a lot more."

When Leonard Village President Mike McDonald moved to Addison in 1978, he said everybody was "up-in-arms" when the board was discussing moving from their location in Leonard to the current one on Rochester Rd. in Lakeville.

"The township board made the decision. There was no vote of the people. The township board said, 'It makes good sense. We know a good deal when we see it and we're going move to Lakeville.' I don't see why anybody would have an objection to that," McDonald said."It's up to the township board. The money is all in the reports and we can all see what's there and not there, and I think we should move on from there."

Money in the bank

Pearson said according the last audit, the township has over $1.9 million in unrestricted funds it can use at the board's discretion.

"We don't just collect taxes to put money in the bank. We collect taxes to give services back," Pearson said. "I think the board is elected by the people here to handle the fiduciary responsibilities of the township."

That's why he believes it's the board's decision to make whether the current facility is fixed or a new one is built. Pearson likened it to the fire department when they need a new fire engine.

"When they go to buy a new fire engine, they don't ask the people to vote on a new fire engine. They put money away in a capital fund over many years, so the chief has that money," he said. "When it's time, he comes to the board and says I need to make the responsible decision. I need a fire engine."

"It's the same thing with the township hall. We've been putting money away. I'd agree if we were asking for more money, but we're not," Pearson continued. "We're asking for a sound decision of the board. And if we choose not to do it, I think it will be because it was a sound decision to turn it down. I think that experience is exactly why you elected the people you elected."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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