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 Children play at Marshbank Park in West Bloomfield June 16. A parks and recreation millage renewal will be on the ballot Aug. 4.

Children play at Marshbank Park in West Bloomfield June 16. A parks and recreation millage renewal will be on the ballot Aug. 4.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


West Bloomfield Parks and recreation millage to be on the ballot in August

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 18, 2020

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Aside from local, Senate and congressional candidates, West Bloomfield voters will have a parks and recreation millage renewal proposal to consider for the Aug. 4 primary election.

The millage was previously approved in 2008, and the renewal proposal would authorize the township to levy 0.2286 mills for 10 years after the current millage expires this year. According to wbparks.org, for the 2021 tax year, it is estimated that for every $100,000 of taxable value, a property owner would pay $22.86.

It is estimated that the proposal would result in the authorization to collect $885,669 in the first year the millage is levied.

One of the points of emphasis for Jennifer Tucker, who is the executive parks director for West Bloomfield, is that the proposal is a renewal, and not a tax increase.

“It doesn’t change tax levels or anything,” Tucker said. “It basically lets us continue to operate as we are. … It’s a renewal on a 10-year millage.”

Tucker pointed out that with funds the department has already had to work with, a senior center was opened in January, and ballparks have been renovated. She expects to have a grand opening for a splash park next spring.

“So this money will basically help us to continue those kinds of efforts,” Tucker said. “West Bloomfield Parks is seen (as) a leader in the state. We have very high standards and want people to be excited about living in West Bloomfield for the park properties that we maintain and the services that we provide.”

There are 13 different parks in the 580-acre properties. Other facilities include the West Bloomfield Trail and Nature Preserve.

Before January, the township hadn’t had a dedicated space for senior programming, instead spreading its diverse lineup of classes and activities across several locations.

That changed with the opening of a “one-stop shop” for senior services at a dedicated location at Orchard Mall in what once was a fur business at the northwest corner of the complex. The three-year lease was secured at what officials described as “a very favorable rental rate” from Orchard Mall: about $41 per month to cover maintenance, which amounts to around $500 per year.

The renovations were estimated to cost $141,000 to add extra bathrooms; flooring and lighting upgrades; and modifications for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

West Bloomfield Clerk Debbie Binder also shares an enthusiasm for West Bloomfield parks.

“I think that West Bloomfield parks, along with the library, are the jewels of our community,” Binder said. “I think that’s what brings people here and serves our population as a whole.”

Binder expects a large turnout Aug. 4 with a “huge increase” in absentee voting.

“This parks and rec millage is on a larger ballot,” Binder said. “So, the parks and rec is going to have larger turnout just based on the fact that it’s on a state primary ballot. So, it’s not a small election.”

Tucker has considered the possibility of the proposal not passing.

“That could mean that we would need to cut back quite a bit,” she said. “That would be close to about a fourth of our budget, potentially, would need to be cut. To be honest, some of those services may need to go away. We wouldn’t be able to afford them without that millage.”

From Tucker’s perspective, the parks have been a haven for residents to enjoy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen such an influx in the parks,” she said. “So, I think people understand how important they are now more than ever. Mental health wise, it’s the only outlet a lot (of) people had. We’re hopeful people see the value in that. They’ve been able to get outside in some of our green spaces and utilize the parks. I think it kind of makes you realize how important those kinds of amenities are.”

Tucker wants residents to still have a chance to enjoy some of the other perks that can come with the space the Parks and Recreation Commission has to work with.

“We are trying to come up with a creative way in which to do concerts,” she said.

Tucker also added that the department is checking into a “scaled-back version of our camps.”

Tucker said this is the 50th anniversary of the parks’ beginning. She shared her evaluation as to the current state of the parks and recreation endeavors.

“We’ve accomplished a ton in a short amount of time,” Tucker said. “Opening the senior center way (ahead) of schedule because we did some creative thinking and opened it up in Orchard Mall. I think we’re very innovative and very much a leader within the park systems in the state.”


Official ballot language
Shall the millage previously authorized by the electors in 2008 authorizing the Charter Township of West Bloomfield to levy up to .2286 mills as reduced by required millage rollbacks to a levy of .2187 mills in 2019, be renewed at and increased up to the original voted .2286 mills ($.2286 per $1,000 of taxable value) and levied for 10 years, 2021 through 2030 inclusive, after the millage expiration in 2020? The renewal millage shall be used only for acquisition, development, maintenance, and operation of Township parks and places of recreation by the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission. Approval of this proposal would permit a tax levy of up to $.2286 per $1,000.00 of taxable value on all taxable property in the Charter Township of West Bloomfield as reduced by required millage rollbacks. It is estimated that this proposal would result in the authorization to collect $885,669 in the first year the millage is levied.

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