Council places park improvement bond on Aug. ballot

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published April 23, 2014

CLAWSON — The City Council at its April 15 meeting unanimously approved placing a 20-year, $3.8 million park improvement bond proposal on the Aug. 5 ballot. 

To pay for the bond, if approved by voters, the city would levy 0.89 mills from property owners for the next two decades.

For the average homeowner in Clawson, that translates to an annual $45 increase in property taxes.

City Councilman Jim Horton said just before the vote that he was “hesitant” to vote for the ballot measure because of all the infrastructure work that still needed to be done throughout the city.

“Maybe it’s time we start putting our money into something that people can see and enjoy, because it’s really hard to enjoy sewer lines,” Horton said.

City officials said that if approved, it is likely that the city would not need to levy the full amount.

“What our philosophy and our history shows is that any millage that’s approved by Clawson residents, the millage may be up to a certain amount, but we will only use the amount that we need,” Mayor Penny Luebs said.

City Manager Mark Pollock said that the city has projected about $3 million in needed repairs mainly to City Park, but he wants voters to approve the extra $800,000 as a contingency plan in case a certain project costs more than anticipated.

“It’s a bold undertaking, but I think most people agree that it needs to be done,” Pollock said of the potential upgrades.

Kathy Leenhouts, the director of Recreation and Senior Services, provided an overview of the planned projects.

Most of the upgrades would take place in City Park, including improvements to the football field and the track.

She said the “tot lot” would see improvements, as well.

“Since we do have a lot of young families that come into Clawson, we feel that that’s pretty important — that we pay attention to that part of the park, as well,” Leenhouts said.

The soccer fields at Grant Park would see repairs.

“We’re trying to hit as many groups as we possibly can,” she said. “And we hope that they’ll see the importance of doing this and the benefits of doing this.”

Pollock said that one reason the city is looking to float the bonds now is so that some of the repairs the city would make coincide with the repairs the school district will make next summer.

In February, voters passed a $9.9 million bond for school repairs.

While many of the upgrades will focus on school buildings, some of the money will be used on athletic facilities adjacent to city property, including the district-owned locker room adjacent to the city-owned football and track field.

With the upgrades, officials said that the school would be able to host home track meets within Clawson, which the district hasn’t been able to do in years.

“As a whole, the community will have this awesomely upgraded place for people to recreate, to play, to offer sports,” Leenhouts said.