Editor’s Note: On the upcoming Nov. 6 ballot, Peninsula Township residents will be voting on a proposal that would shift the management of the township parks to the Township Board. Here is the proposal as noted on the ballot under “Peninsula Township,” “Dissolution of Park Commission Proposal”:
“Shall the Peninsula Township Park Commission be dissolved pursuant to MCL 41.426g thereby transferring all powers and duties and all assets and liabilities of the Peninsula Township Park Commission to the Peninsula Township Board of Trustees?”
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Read more about the proposal here, read Debbie Rough’s opinion piece here, and read current Park Commission chair Anne Griffiths opinion piece here. – jb
We elect our Peninsula Township Park Commission. But in the name of change, efficiency, structural problems or just the natural difficulties inherent in a democracy, we are being told that we should eliminate our Park Commission. But what will happen if the Park Commission is abolished?
The measure doesn’t say, but I’ve been given two very different answers:
1) An appointed Park Commission will replace the elected Park Commission, which means we will lose our Park Commission vote.
2) The Park Commission will not be replaced and all decisions will be made directly by the Township Board.
If Number 1 (appointed Park Commission) is the answer, the Township Board will still have to approve all decisions, which means the double approval problem is not solved. But this also further concentrates power in the Township Board, who naturally would tend to appoint people with whom they agree.
If Number 2 is the answer (no Park Commission), the structural problem of two levels of decision makers is resolved, but it creates even more problems.
Members of the Peninsula Township Board are good, hard-working folks, but they are already very busy. So day-to-day decisions about our parks will be made by township employees (who are also good, hard-working people). But, they, too, are busy.
I suspect that if we eliminate our Park Commission and as a result, lose our direct vote in how the parks are run, some things just won’t get done. And then, perhaps, we’ll be asked to pay to hire a Parks Director with salary and benefits.
There is a very different solution to the problems caused by this double approval process. Have the Township Board approve a yearly budget for the Park Commission. Then let the Park Commission make final decisions within the budget approved by the Township Board. After all, both boards are elected by us.
I urge you to vote NO on the changes proposed to our Peninsula Township Park Commission in the upcoming election.
Thoughts? Leave a comment in the comments section below.
Well reasoned and a reasonable solution.
When I was a college administrator the academic departments for which I was responsible functioned in a way similar to what is here suggested.
Each department submitted a yearly budget request in various categories. For example, the art department would request clay for ceramics, or the philosophy department might need funds to sponsor a conference. Each department would be given an amount of money for these purposes and would be responsible for spending it correctly.
Department administrators were elected and reflected the priorities of their faculties.
An elected park board, as is suggested, could function the same way, handling a set amount of money to address the needs and priorities of their electorate, namely the residents of the township.
Vote NO – Tell your Township Board you want another option when it comes to your neighborhood Parks.
For those of you following on Nextdoor.com – I am being told that our current Elected Park Board has no power. It appears that they are only allowed to make recommendations to the Township Board. Same would go for an appointed park board. Both have the same amount of “Say” and “No Authority”. Here are my thoughts and I invite everyone to point out any bad information or add additional comments. Please try and keep it civil and objective. (Okay to attack an issue – not a person.)
Here are the differences:
ELECTED Park Board Member – has to focus more on what the residents want because they need their vote to be elected and re-elected. They also have the burden of going through the election process making the seat much harder to fill. There are not a lot of people that are willing to go through this process. They cannot be hired and fired at will. It is a much harder to appoint a new person if there are personality conflicts or someone is neglecting their duties. Sometimes they have a hard time getting anything done because they can not get the Township Board to agree with what the residents want. If the Township Board wants something different than what the residents want, they have to pursue it themselves because an Elected Park Board Member won’t be re-elected if they pursue it.
APPOINTED PARK BOARD MEMBER- would not have to go through the election process making it easier for someone to apply. We would probably get many more qualified people interested. An appointed park board member would serve at the Township Board’s pleasure – hire and fire at will. Easy to replace someone that has a personality conflict or is neglecting their duties. An appointed member would have to focus more on what the Township Board members want or risk being fired. An Appointed Park Board member would get a lot more done because they would not waste their efforts on anything that the Township Board would decline.
THIRD OPTION (not offered) – I am interested in any process that gives the residents a say in how their neighborhood parks are maintained. I would not expect to tell Bowers Harbor or Pelizzari residents what to do in their neighborhood. I do not want someone from Bowers Harbor or Pelizzari telling us what to do in our neighborhood (Haserot/Kelly Park) Example – The current elected park board voted unanimous not to lease Kelly Park from the DNR for $1 per year and have the Township pay for all maintenance; outhouse, mowing, trash, repairs and clean up after visitors. The reason given for the unanimous NO vote was that there was nothing in it for the residents – why should we pay for Kelly Park. As far as I know the Township Board is going to approve the lease. Please tell me if I’m wrong on the Township Board’s position on this. See page 3 New Business on the following link from Planning Commision Meeting in 2014 quoting what the local residents had to say. http://www.peninsulatownship.com/uploads/1/0/4/3/10438394/05-19-14_pc_pkc_minutes.pdf
Update – I was disappointed to see our neighbors post – election to eliminate the Parks Board on Peninsula Twp article deleted in the main newsfeed on Nextdoor.com. The political news feed has only 29 members and I think we could all benefit from a much larger audience on an important issue for everyone in the Peninsula Township. I was encouraged to see it go on as long as it did. I know that there were some comments that did not follow Nextdoor’s guidelines of civility and would have understood if only those comments were deleted.
If you want more timely progress from the township in regards to park improvements and real solutions to the park issues, then vote YES for the Peninsula Parks. This will allow the township board to put in place a strong team of individuals that understand the needs of all the parks and have a focus on moving forward. Having the current set up with an elected board is cumbersome and very slow to see progress. I have seen it first hand with managing the lighthouse for my third season. Nearly all the Michigan townships have an appointed Park Board because it works! An elected Park Board allows an extra layer of bureaucracy and mismanagement. It’s time for Peninsula Township to make this change for the better! Please residents: Vote YES for the parks!
Ginger Schultz, Mission Point Lighthouse Manager
Vote NO – Request that Our Township board follow the recommendations of the Existing ELECTED Park Board. They listen to us and do their best to improve safety and protect the peaceful use of our properties. They are not permitted to get anything done because they can not get authorization from the Township Board to make changes that the residents want. It does not take long for existing Park Board members to realize that they are just a buffer between the public and the Township Board. This is the reason that there are vacancies and why they are hard to fill. An appointed Park Board will only pursue the wishes of the Township Board and the powerful group of individuals that worked very hard to put this on the ballot. Old Mission Harbor residents made it clear that Kelly Park was “A gift that the neighborhood does not want.” There is not a person involved in purchasing this park that has to put up with the noise, trash loss of privacy, pollution and rudeness that these people bring with them. No one talked to us about approaching the DNR to purchase Kelly Park. We were not given a choice.
Lisa – I disagree, VOTE YES – for an appointed Park Board is the answer. That is the way other townships function and we should have the same setup. Your third option of getting a say from neighbors of the various parks certainly won’t happen if we continue with the elected board. Residents don’t even come to the monthly meetings now. If we continue with the elected board how will anything be improved? It won’t. Vote YES for a positive change
VOTE NO –
Ginger, I’m sorry, but we are nothing like other Townships. We have something very special here that we are dreadfully afraid of losing. I don’t expect you to understand our neighborhood in Old Mission Harbor because you don’t experience what we do. You don’t know the history of the sacrifices that we have been forced to make. I would vote to have you represent the lighthouse but do not see how you could represent Haserot and Kelly Park in a way that reflects the needs of the community.
I have seen you at these meetings and know that you have seen the residents come in with hope of having a say. Believe me, we know what we want and do not mind speaking up if we have hope that it will make a difference. We are even more than capable of coming up with some darn good and practical ideas. Allow us to make positive changes and you will see attendance skyrocket.
Correct me if I’m wrong in saying that the Elected Park Board does its duty by listening to the residents and pursuing changes that we need; to restrict overcrowding, protect safety on our streets/beaches/water and ensure us the ability to maintain a peaceful residential neighborhood. The residents are smart enough to realize that their participation goes nowhere because the Park Board can only make recommendations. Most of us have lost hope. We are tired of not being able to fix what is wrong in our neighborhood. We do not want conflict. We are tired of people making decisions on what our next sacrifice is going to be to serve the interests of others. We are tired of only being able to choose the lesser of two or three evils. It is too easy for a very influential group of people, that do not live in the neighborhood, to give away something that belongs to us. Haserot has served our small community for many years in a way that enhances our peaceful way of life. In the last twenty some years it has been exploited by people pursuing commercial interests that do not have the resident’s best interests at heart.
I do believe that the lighthouse should be managed outside of the park board. It is a revenue generating asset in an almost non-existent residential environment. We need to have a Park Board that is elected by their neighbors and accountable to their neighbors. In the meetings that I have attended, the lighthouse is almost the only source of conflict. It is not a good fit and, in my opinion, SHOULD NOT be managed by the park board. Keep the ELECTED park board and remove the lighthouse. An appointed employee can better manage the lighthouse.
Keep the ELECTED park board. The township works at the pleasure of the residents; let the residents decide who they want to represent their say about our parks. Previous administrations have done the entire Peninsula an extreme injustice by not pursuing more beach access throughout the ENTIRE Peninsula. We need neighborhood parks for each residential community.
If you want to compare our community to others, the City of Traverse City does a much better job of spreading beach access evenly throughout their city. Bryant Park has a much larger beach, modern facilities and fewer opportunities for parking. By restricting parking, the city ensures that those within walking distance will be allowed enough space to enjoy the beach. The surrounding houses do not have vehicles parked bumper to bumper in front of their homes ruining their landscape and leaving trash in their yards. Stop cramming all the needs of the entire Peninsula in the small community of Haserot. Each community within the Peninsula should pursue changes in THEIR neighborhood to fit their needs. Stop this “Not in my neighborhood mentality” from preventing adequate beach access. Why should someone at the base of the Peninsula have to drive the entire length of the Peninsula to enjoy beach access? No one wins with “Urban Sprawl”.