Parks and Rec levy heads to council

Committee recommends 2.01-mills for park improvements

By Melanie Yingst -

TROY — Members of the Parks and Recreation Committee agreed to present the 2.01-mills park levy for city council’s consideration on Monday.

The levy would generate approximately $8 million over the 10-year period for proposed Duke Park North baseball and soccer field improvements, Miami Shores golf course clubhouse renovation and repairs and maintenance at the Troy Senior Citizen’s Center. If passed, the levy could cost $70.35 per $100,000 property value, according to city of Troy’s Director of Public Service and Safety Patrick Titterington.

Committee chairman Brock Heath, Robin Oda and Doug Tremblay agreed to move forward with the proposed park levy for council’s vote next Monday, May 16, without emergency designation. The committee agreed to move forward with legislation after an hour-long meeting filled with questions from not only the committee, but from other council members and residents.

Titterington emphasized that this levy was proposed by the grassroots organization“Operation Recreation 2020” and is not a city-led effort. The group has also pledged to raise $4 million in private donations and possible grants as part of its “public/private endeavor” for approximately $11 million in improvements, not including the cost of the Huelskamp farm acquired last year.

The private donations combined with potential public levy funds would finance the proposed $11.2 million in proposed improvements to Duke Park (not including its acquisition of the farm), $1.5 million clubhouse renovation and driving range at Miami Shores Golf Course and $100,000 in work at the Troy Senior Citizens Center.

Titterington said if the levy failed or did not pass through council, the Duke Park North park expansion would continue to be farmed until finances and resources changed.

Titterington estimated the cost of maintenance to the city’s park department staff would be approximately $25,000 for part-time season help.

Committee member Robin Oda asked why the organization proposed the levy, and not the city.

Council member Bobby Phillips, who also is a member of the Operation Recreation 2020 committee, said with the needs of the Troy Junior Baseball to move from the flood plain of Knoop Fields to Duke Park, the updates needed at the golf course and other projects that have been set aside, the group decided to propose the levy to jump start the park improvement process.

Oda said she still feels the project is being rushed and asked why the group couldn’t wait another year or more.

Phillips said it was a timing issue due to interest rates that are low on the bond market, and construction costs are rising.

“The citizens are going to be the determining factors in this,” Phillips said.

Two residents spoke at the committee meeting. One resident asked why the organization hadn’t first raised its private donations and then requested the levy with their monies ready to go.

Another resident questioned the city’s figures on the city’s levy funding formula and how their figures didn’t add up to pay for all the proposed work.

Titterington said if the private funds weren’t raised as proposed, how would the city look at how to scale the project across the board.

“To give specifics is really impossible to do,” Titterington said. “If the money is just not there where we can do the project to improve the amenity then one of the recommendations from us is to do nothing and leave that property alone, continue to farm it until such time is when we are ready to look at it again. To try to answer that now is impossible.”

Council members Tom Kendall and John Twilliger asked questions about the scope of the project ranging from how the project would proceed if funds were not raised, how estimates were arrived at and why residents were being asked to potentially pay for amenities used by outside groups.

Titterington said potential revenue from the golf course would offset much of the capital costs, volunteer groups would help maintain fields, operate concessions to help generate revenue or offset potential costs.

“We’re not giving this away on the back of the taxpayers,” Titterington said.

Phillips also noted that if select ball teams held tournaments in Troy, businesses would benefit from hotels, dining and other economic factors.

Committee recommends 2.01-mills for park improvements

By Melanie Yingst