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Supervisor speaks his mind on streetscape, updates Rotarians

by CJ Carnacchio

February 29, 2012

Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn addressed the Rotary Club of Oxford Tuesday on a variety of subjects, ranging from the DDA’s proposed $4.66 million streetscape plan to all the good corporate citizens the township has. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn wasn't shy when someone asked him for his personal opinion of the proposed $4.66 million streetscape plan for the downtown area.

"I'm on record as not agreeing with it," he said. "I live in the village. I think the (Downtown Development Authority) needs to take care of the parking situation. We're fortunate right now to have a lot of business in the village on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. As a matter of fact, they're usually parking on my lawn, so I think they need to take care of the parking before they do any streetscapes."

Dunn was the guest speaker Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Oxford's weekly luncheon/meeting at Oxford Hills Golf and Country Club.

He addressed a variety of topics including the proposed streetscape plan, which is designed to make M-24 (Washington St.) from the Polly Ann Trail bridge to Broadway St. more pedestrian-friendly and visually appealing to visitors. The plan also includes the southern gateway to the village (near Minnetonka St.) and portions of Burdick St., east and west of M-24.

"They don't really have enough money to do what they're planning on doing," said Dunn, who serves on the DDA board. "They keep saying they're going to go get grants, but grants take matching funds. I don't think it's smart to put $5 million in a (limited) area on M-24."

The DDA board has not voted on or made any decisions regarding the proposed plan.

Dunn made it clear he was only expressing his personal opinion of the plan, not the DDA board's view. "I'm one of nine people (on the board)," he said. "If the board votes to go a certain way, I'll go that way with them, but I don't have to like it."

The supervisor said while he doesn't mind seeing improvements made in front of downtown's buildings, he would "like to see more development in the back, maybe expand the parking a little bit more" or create additional areas for outdoor dining and seating.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable sitting on M-24 with these trucks going by," he said. "They think it's bad now, wait until the economy picks up. The way you used to be able to judge the economy in this community was by how many trucks went up and down that road. When it's busy around here, every other minute, there's one going by.

"So, I don't think it's reasonable to (spend) $5 million or $6 million to try to make the front (of the buildings) compatible for people to sit and eat."

Dunn indicated he also has concerns over the fact that the DDA, in his opinion, doesn't spend much time or money trying to help the businesses and property owners south of Dennison/Stanton streets.

"These people are contributing their money to the DDA," he said. "If there's going to be any growth in the village, it's going to be there . . . Nothing's been done there. They've been ignored and I think it's a shame."

In addition to the streetscape, Dunn addressed numerous other topics including:

n Great corporate neighbors "One is the Levy corporation," Dunn said. "Over the years they've donated gravel to upgrade our roads, miles and miles . . .They donated a lot of gravel last year. We overlaid probably five or six miles of roads. This year, we're going to be doing it again. We're doing Drahner Rd. from M-24 to Barr. We're also going to do Ray Rd. from N. Oxford Rd. to Ballantyne. And we're doing Metamora Rd. from M-24 to Davison Lake Rd."

Dunn noted how Levy also donated 3.5 acres, north of the village, for a future fire hall.

The supervisor thanked local McDonald's owner Jack McMahon for donating some acreage to the township that abuts Fire Station #1 downtown.

The township plans to sell the M-24 frontage and use the rest for fire department training purposes.

"These corporate neighbors are important," Dunn said. "I find it easy to go to them. People say to me, 'Well, how do you get them to donate all this?' All you do is ask and they're more than happy to do it."

n Police Millage Dunn noted the township is planning to ask the voters to approve a police millage increase in the August primary election.

"In the past couple years, we've gotten rid of a lieutenant and a midnight (shift) officer," he said. "We're just going to put it out there to see if the community would like to fund getting the staffing back to where it was."

Dunn made it clear that nothing's been decided with regard to the amount of the millage proposal.

"It will be decided at our next board meeting," he said.

n Township clean-up "We have clean-up day May 19," Dunn said. "This is a great day for the community. You may have noticed in the last 10 or 15 years, there's a lot less garbage along the sides of the roads because of it."

It's also a day for residents to get rid of items like old refrigerators and have old documents shredded. All of that will take place at Stony Lake Township Park.

n New website "The township has a new website," Dunn said. "We're kind of excited about that. It's"

n New businesses "We have a Tractor Supply (Co.) that keeps threatening to come in," Dunn said.

Dunn called Tractor Supply "a mixed blessing."

"I like to see new business come in, but I hate to see other businesses (that sell the same type of items) hurt by it," he said. "I would rather have a Kohl's, or someone like that, come in here and not really be in competition with people that are already here."

Dunn also mentioned the private Chinese investors who wish to build a dormitory for visiting foreign students, plus a hotel and convention center, on 56 acres east of M-24, near Oxford High School.

"I don't know where that's at (status-wise)," he said. "I have not been approached by anyone on any development there."

Dunn asked Oxford Superintendent Dr. William Skilling, who was sitting in the audience, if he could update the Rotarians.

"It's still in the works," Skilling said. "I'll be in China in a couple weeks and I'll be meeting with the investors to talk about it further. The school (district's) not involved in investing in it, but we're going to have a role once it gets done in terms of some of the activities going on (there)."

Dunn noted the township is working extremely hard to make it "very friendly" for developers and companies to do business here.

"If you're a business that wants to come into town, we're going to sit down with you . . . and get you to where you've got a shovel in the ground as quickly as possible," he said.