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Macomb Township

May 1, 2013

Macomb moving forward with historical area

By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer

Macomb Township’s proposed historical area will be located just north of the Recreation Center parking lot, on the southwest side of the pond. Township officials hope that it will become a major gathering place for the community.

ACOMB TOWNSHIP — With plans to establish a township historical area gathering steam, there may soon be a new hotspot in the community for residents to gather.

On April 24, the Macomb Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved a request from the Historical Commission to use township property for the development of an area celebrating Macomb’s nearly 180 years of history. The board did not commit any township funds to support the project, however.

The proposed historical site will be located on the land directly north of the parking lot for the Township Recreation Center, 20699 Macomb St., on the southwest side of the pond. According to Township Supervisor Janet Dunn, an advisor for the Historical Commission, the strategy was to keep the historical area contained within a centralized location near Township Hall and the Rec Center.

Nevertheless, she said that township officials are in no rush to push this plan through, as the ambitious project is still very much in its infancy.

“This is not going to happen all at once — it could take a long time before we get to do everything we want to do with this area,” she said. “We need to make sure that we know exactly what we want and where it’s going to go and how much it’s going to cost. First things first here; baby steps are the way to go.”

Perhaps the most significant feature of the historical area will be the old LFA Hall, a former Lutheran church located at 25 Mile and Romeo Plank roads, which will be donated by the current property owner and relocated to its new home. Dunn indicated that the building could possibly be converted into a historical museum for the township.

There will be a gazebo constructed by Dakota High School’s industrial trade class that Dunn hopes will become “an ideal location” for weddings, summer concerts and high school prom photos. Dakota students will also be constructing a faithful recreation of the original 25 Mile Road school, which was located where one of Macomb’s fire stations now sits at 16820 25 Mile Road.

In addition, the site will include a concrete walking path around the pond with trees donated by local families in memory of their loved ones. Park benches will also be installed, along with bathroom facilities to be shared with the Rec Center for its outdoor activities, so the site will require electricity, water and sewer lines. Township officials were originally planning to relocate a drain that runs through the area, but Dunn said that they may reconsider this option because it would be very expensive.

Dunn was unsure of how much the project will cost at this point, but she pointed out that, based on Clinton Township’s similar historical area, she expects maintenance expenses alone to run about $6,000 to $7,000 per year. She stressed, though, that no township funds are being committed to the project at this time.

“I’m hoping that we receive some large donations from people and organizations in the community,” Dunn said. “I have a very eager group of volunteers on the Historical Commission who are ready and willing to help us raise the funds that we need.”

The Macomb Township Historical Commission was formed just a few months ago, with its 11 members officially sworn in on Jan. 31 at Township Hall. Its proposed historical area was first introduced on March 11, during a special meeting to help update the township’s master plan.

“This area will give us a place to preserve and shelter our historical things, to keep our history alive, and to eventually educate our residents about the history of Macomb,” said Tim Bussineau, secretary and webmaster for the Historical Commission. “Now that the economy is picking up, we are actually losing more historical places to new developments. Development is a good thing overall, but this is one of the biggest downsides to it.”

Bussineau noted that the Historical Commission is “not trying to reinvent the wheel” with the proposed historical area. Instead, it is modeling the area after similar sites in Troy and Clinton Township. He is also confident that the project will be feasible, even without any township funding, as a handful of Macomb residents and organizations — which he opted not to disclose at this time — have already pledged their support via money, labor and/or materials.

During the brief time since the Historical Commission was established, Bussineau said that many residents have donated a variety of historical photos, artifacts and documents in hopes that they can be incorporated into the historical area. He said he believes that there is a great deal of community support for the project.

“Our residents really want this to happen,” Bussineau said. “So many people have said to me, ‘It’s about time — we should have done this 10, 20 (or) 30 years ago.’ We don’t really have a central gathering place like this in the community, so I hope that our residents will embrace this area as part of our new town center.”

Dunn’s primary motivation for creating the historical area is to ensure that no more of the township’s history is lost to the passage of time. She recalled one of her neighbors talking to her at length about her family’s extensive history in Macomb and all the changes that the township has seen over the last several decades. Dunn advised her neighbor to write down all of these stories, but the neighbor died before she got the chance.

“There are too many things like that happening around here,” Dunn said. “A lot of people don’t know the history of the township, and more and more of it is disappearing as our older residents start to pass away. Buildings are important, yes, but what’s even more important are people, and the stories they have that are meant to be passed down from generation to generation.”

For more information about Macomb Township’s proposed historical area, contact Dunn’s office at (586) 992-0710, ext. 8, or visit www.macombtownshiphc.weebly.com.

Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn contributed to this report.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jeremy Selweski at jSelweski@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5004.