By Rosemary Horvath
Architects are working on four proposals to unveil at a Hayes Township public meeting Dec. 16 designed to centralize township services in a new building and develop 17 acres of township-owned land where the current government hall and Civic Center now sit.
“Or we could do nothing,” added township treasurer Maye Rood.
Shuttering the large Civic Center building behind the hall due to faulty furnaces and damaged roof has pushed township trustees into weighing options.
Complaints of headaches and nausea came from different renters of the center, including some election workers. Rood said of the six furnaces, four was found to have carbon monoxide leaks.
Neither the center nor the Community Building, 3821 N. Grant Rd., is a viable asset for the township to maintain, Rood said.
A cost analysis of expenses versus rental revenue of the township’s three buildings showed the township has been loosing money.
Recent board action authorized selling the Grant Road building. Its appraisal came in at $125,000 but the board has yet to set a sale price.
“It has a nice kitchen. It is a commercial kitchen with stainless steel appliances,” Rood said.
With the center closed, beginning in 2014, the Community Building will be the new polling place for the township’s four precincts that Rood hopes is only temporary.
A decade or so ago, a master plan had proposed a variety of uses for the 17 acres. “We are updating the parks and recreation plan and the master plan,” Rood explained. “We want input from taxpayers. We don’t want to make the decision alone.”
Rood concedes the best wish list however is to combine the three building into one modern energy efficient structure. Whatever the board chooses to do from now on will be with green technology.
A new building could serve as a senior meal site. Rood said costs of maintaining the site at the North Grant Road location far exceeds the $400 the Clare County Commission on Aging pays in monthly rent.
Some aspects of the parks plan have been built. There are courts or fields for basketball, volleyball, tennis and soccer. The township and city of Harrison are partnering to develop, improve or widen nature trails.
“I personally would like to sell the Community Building and Fir Road Park to pump money back into a family park and offset cost of a new building,” Rood said.
A family park would have a pavilion for summer concerts and other festivities. A nature trail could be expanded and one day built to connect to the Pere Marquette Trail in Clare.
Rood was appointed township treasurer a year ago and had been a township trustee about 20 years ago. She had worked in the business office of Harrison Community Schools.
Residents are invited to stop by the township hall to pick up a copy of an attitude survey.
Survey results will be studied by the planning commission and parks and recreation commission for setting future goals.
Questions concern locating business districts clustered around the city limits or out into rural areas, and whether weight should be given to natural characteristics of land or economic gain.
How strongly do residents believe in regulating dilapidated buildings, yard junk and trash, and do they want zoning and subdivision ordinances restricting property rights? How open are they to apartment buildings, duplexes and mobile home parks?
Should a primary focus of the master plan solicit manufacturing? How important are walking and biking trails and sidewalks?
“We are doing everything we can to let them know we value their opinions,” Rood said, adding officials want “to move forward with a positive attitude” and not linger on what has happened in the past.