Here are links to three articles about the proposed Troy Town Center project, which would sell much of the Civic Center green space to developers for apartments, condominiums, retail space, and a new nine story hotel. If everything works according to the plan, the $53 million in public funds for the project ($328 million in private funds would be invested) would be recouped over 20 years, netting the city $12 million in property taxes from the private development.

Robert Gibbs’ New Urbanism original plan for Troy, Michigan is described in the Detroit News article.  The Detroit Free Press and Crain’s Detroit Business articles describe the controversy that surfaced after a petition drive for a charter amendment to possibly block the land sale by putting it up for a vote of the people.

The Troy Charter Amendment reads:

“Section 12.4 The city shall not enter into an agreement for the transfer, sale, lease, or use for more than 90 days, of any portion of any parcel of public land the whole of which is greater than two (2) acres, except by the affirmative vote of a majority of the electors voting on the question at a general election.”

The opponents of this ballot proposal have pulled out all the stops to try to discredit it. A criminal investigation into the collection of signatures came to nothing. The supposedly neutral mailing from the city to residents was obviously biased – it picks the amendment apart and said the people would have to vote on organizations who use parks, on renewing contracts for fitness trainers at the community center and management contracts for operating the city-owned golf courses, etc.

Like many of the people quoted in the articles and commenters, I have concerns that the language is too broad and it might overly restrict the city council. However, I am inclined to vote for it to block the sale of the Civic Center property. If there is a need for changes to the wording, opponents or the city can gather signatures and propose their own revision next November. Here’s my proposal: “The city shall not enter into an agreement for the transfer, sale, or lease of any parcel of public land greater than two (2) acres,” etc.

The revised amendment would then be clear and it would just require a vote on selling the Civic Center green space and future pieces of city-owned land to developers. I question why the city is so eager to do this while the former Kmart Headquarters sits empty a mile and a half west, also on prime land. Why not encourage the owner to redevelop this prime property which is currently only used for overflow parking for Somerset Mall?

The Troy Town Center project proposes dismantling and rebuilding the Troy Family Aquatic Center at a new location and would build a new two-lane bridge across I-75. This bridge would probably get more traffic than the million dollar footbridge at the Troy Transit Center, but it seems unnecessary unless the city wants to have a bridge over I-75 to advertise itself similar to Auburn Hills. (This would be a new two-lane bridge north of Big Beaver, not replacing an existing bridge.)

I am skeptical of the New Urbanism concept (dense packing of people into walkable new city centers which didn’t have downtowns before) and oppose this particular project and others that would rezone to have tall apartment buildings built overlooking single-family homes. After a year of contentious debate, the council voted 4-3 to block the new apartment building. Lately the City Council has been approving nearly every rezoning proposed by the Planning Commission and developers unless nearby residents object.

The current council is unanimous in favor of the Troy Town Center project. Perhaps some new members are needed who have a different perspective. I favor preserving the Civic Center green space and possibly developing it for use as parkland as originally proposed in 2004.

Large donations have come in from out of state developers to defeat the amendment. Here is a link to a receipt for $10,000 from Florida and another $2,500 from a local developer. Here is a receipt for another $5000 contribution.

With all the negative publicity, this charter amendment is unlikely to pass, but either way, the issue is not dead. If it passes, it may need to be modified, and if it fails, perhaps there will be another petition drive more specific to the Civic Center property.

I encourage people to write letters to the City Council regarding the Town Center project and to vote Tuesday, November 7.

Other articles

Please check out The Michigan Declaration and consider signing it.

 

In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I introduced the project and published Matthew Chapter 1 . Later I wrote commentary on it; my church background and theological training is in my USA Melting Pot bio.

Dale Murrish writes on historytraveltechnologyreligion and politics for the USA Melting Pot club,  LinkedIn, and Troy Patch. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.

Other interesting articles on the USA Melting Pot website have been written by Bilal Rathur on his hajj to Saudi Arabia (Part 6) and by Carl Petersen. Thanks to both of them for their contributions.