Instructor Gayle Taub and volunteer Thea Sailer lead a stretch and tone class at the Connect Senior Center in West Bloomfield April 30.

Instructor Gayle Taub and volunteer Thea Sailer lead a stretch and tone class at the Connect Senior Center in West Bloomfield April 30.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

West Bloomfield Parks and Rec seeks $25M bond

New senior center would be at Civic Center

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 4, 2024


WEST BLOOMFIELD — Voters in West Bloomfield have been tasked with deciding whether to approve a 20-year, $25 million bond proposal for the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission.

The proposal will appear on ballots Aug. 6.

According to a press release, 50% of the township’s residents are 50 or older, and with demand for senior services expected to increase, the current Connect Senior Center, located at 14 Mile and Farmington roads, is not large enough to meet the demand.

A new center is the centerpiece of the proposal.

The West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission has a lease at its current Connect Senior Center, which is around 9,000 square feet.

If the bond is approved, a new, 33,000-square-foot Connect community center would be built on the Civic Center campus.

According to Kelly Hyer, who is the executive director of the commission, the building would be located in the space between the Parks and Recreation building currently on campus and the West Bloomfield Township Public Library.

She said that it would take approximately 18 months to build.

Taxpayers currently pay for four dedicated West Bloomfield parks millages.

Aside from a new Connect community center, the bond would also go toward other capital park improvements, including new playgrounds at several parks, including Pine Lake, Bloomer and Marshbank parks, according to Hyer.

She explained the difference between the bond money they are seeking and the four millages that residents are already paying for.

“A bond is similar to a loan that’s used to finance capital projects, so, unlike our other millages, where those millages are used for both capital and operational dollars, this would be specifically for capital projects and improvements,” Hyer said.

West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Robert Brooks discussed what some taxpayers who reside in the township might pay if the proposal were to pass.

“The average property value, the assessed value, (is) probably at $250,000, or somewhere around there. So we’re talking about somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 annually, in order to have a facility that you pay on over 20 years,” Brooks said.

Hyer said residents would see the additional tax on their December tax statement this year.

“It would be itemized differently than the millages, and that would be for the capital bonds payment,” she said.

For Brooks, the most important aspect of the proposal is that, if approved, it would give residents a center that they can call their own.

“What we realize is the aging community in West Bloomfield is in some sense remaining put and needs resources such as (an) expanded rec center,” he said. “We believe that renting someone else’s property and not having our own is not the route to go. … If we had it on the township grounds, we believe that we not only would have a great place for seniors, but we would get a multigenerational coming together, and with a diverse community like West Bloomfield, it would be great to have all ages of people coming together.”

According to Hyer, there are close to 70,000 residents in West Bloomfield, with the township having grown substantially since the 1970s.

She discussed the timing of seeking money for a new Connect community center.

“We really needed to come up with a solution for a dedicated space for the seniors, so in the new Connect concept, we have a dedicated lounge space, and then we also have space for more amenities that the residents have been asking for, such as indoor pickleball (and) table tennis,” Hyer said. “The concept plans include a walking track. … That is like our top requested item, frequently, in surveys and in talking to residents.”

From Hyer’s perspective, there is not enough space for classes that are offered at the current Connect facility. Aside from a new center helping to solve that problem, she also shared what she considers another advantage of getting a new location.

“We also are going to be able to do more enhanced nature education offering,” Hyer said. “This expanded nature education area would allow for more of our exhibits and more live animals, and then be able to fit the traditional classrooms that want to come to West Bloomfield parks. And then our natural play area, which is super popular – this will allow us to have an expanded outdoor natural play area.”

Hyer explained how residents can figure out how much it would cost them individually, if the proposal were approved.

“The taxable value is calculated by the township, and it’s the amount listed on your taxes of your property bill,” she said. “They can start by pulling up their property tax bill, and then they would need to take a look at the (bond’s) approximate annual assessment, which is $35 for every $100,000 of taxable value.”

According to Hyer, an information meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 30 at the Connect Senior Center, located at 33230 W. 14 Mile Road.

Residents can also learn more about the bond by visiting

According to Hyer, if approved, the bond would begin this year, with work on a new community center starting next year.

It is anticipated that the center would open in late 2026.

Playground replacements would be started next year and completed in 2030, with the first order of business being Bloomer Park, followed by Pine Lake Park and Marshbank Park.

The paved walking trail at Marshbank Park would be replaced next year, and an expanded pickleball complex would be constructed in 2027, according to Hyer.

“For approximately 50-plus years there was some expectation that this would be a state-of-the-art recreation center, and we kind (of) got off target over the many years,” Brooks said. “I’ve served on this commission for three terms now, and in my service and going over our master plan over many years, it’s been very evident that we put a lot of our resources into assets into our parks facilities … and the assets are very good, but we don’t have the recreation piece that our residents deserve.”