City officials consider bond proposal for park improvements

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published April 15, 2014

 Caroline Collett, 2, plays at Clawson City Park April 12. The city is weighing whether to ask voters for a $3.8 million park-improvement bond.

Caroline Collett, 2, plays at Clawson City Park April 12. The city is weighing whether to ask voters for a $3.8 million park-improvement bond.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

CLAWSON — Residents may be asked to decide in August whether to approve or reject a bond proposal that would pay for repairs to various parks and recreational facilities.

City Council was expected to have voted April 15 — after the Review went to print — on whether to place the 20-year, $3.8 million park-improvement bond proposal on the Aug. 5 ballot.

City Manager Mark Pollock said that, if approved, the city would levy an additional 0.8 mills in property taxes to pay for the bonds. For a home with a taxable value of $50,000, that translates to a $40 annual increase in property taxes.

Pollock said that the city might not need to borrow the full $3.8 million and thus would not have to levy the full amount.

“We’re building in a pretty significant contingency,” he said.

He said that if voters approved the bond, and after all the bidding for the projects finished, it’s likely that Clawson would need to borrow closer to $3.2 million.

There will be no additional cost to the city from placing it on the August ballot because Aug. 5 also is a primary election.                                                                                                                                     

Kathy Leenhouts, the director of recreation and senior services, said during the April 1 council meeting that fundraising and grant-seeking efforts had failed to keep the parks and facilities updated.

“To do these major improvements, it’s going to take more than a piecemeal fundraising project,” Leenhouts said. “We’re hoping the council will consider going out for a bond to update our recreational facilities.”

The repairs would focus largely on City Park and the track and football field.

Although nothing is set in stone, officials said projects would include repairs to the baseball field and the construction of a new skate park.

Mayor Penny Luebs said that she feels the city, schools and athletic teams have done their due diligence, as far as attempting to pay for the repairs through fundraising and grant applications.

Luebs said that up until recently, she had been opposed to going to voters for park improvements.

“Our first response should not be to go out for a millage,” Luebs said in a phone interview.

The grant applications have not been enough, though, she said.

“With grants, they want to see their projects completed in ‘X’ amount of time, and we haven’t been able to coordinate the grants,” Luebs said.