First Time Defeat – Gonser loses Board vote on Parks.

EDITORIAL – see straight news reporting of this event here

Please note that, on 9/22/13, I changed the names of those that voted Aye and Nay , after receiving information about the vote from Supervisor Gonser.  I think that the change is important because Clerk Reilly has never before opposed Supervisor Gonser so Trustee Thalmann is the only 100% supporter left.

The Board of Trustees handed Oakland Township Supervisor Gonser his first defeat with their Sept. 10th votes on rezoning parkland.  Having not lost any prior vote on anything, he lost on two motions in a row. This was not an inconsequential defeat, rather, its importance to Gonser has been shown in our previous reporting on his attempts to change the direction and challenge the authority of the elected Parks Commission.

Since this Board’s first meeting last November, virtually every vote was approved unanimously.  This began to unravel several months ago when Trustees Keyes and McKay began to challenge the Board on, among other things, the signing of the Board approved ethics pledge. Trustee Bailey would also occasionally make arguments contrary to Gonser’s direction.  This time Keyes and Bailey were joined by Clerk Reilly andTreasurer Langlois who argued that the voters gave the Parks Commission the authority  to manage parkland.  The Board did not have that authority.

This is an important development and maybe we will now begin to enjoy a more representative, responsive and pluralistic Board of Trustees.

The first Gonser defeat was a motion to allow first reading of the rezoning changes for only two of the seven parks for which the Parks and Recreation Commission had been pushing  zoning changes from Single Family Residential to Recreation-Conservation.  Supervisor Gonser made impassioned  arguments describing Oakland Township Parks as “appalling” and “unacceptable”.  Without a single mention of the township’s great history of land conservation, he decried the lack of ball fields.  Gonser did not acknowledge the fact that much of the land in question had been purchased with funds from the voter approved Land Preservation Millage which proscribes most development for active recreation.

The Supervisor made a proposal that no parkland can be zoned as Recreation-Conservation until there is a plan with a short time frame that would develop it for recreation, not allowing this additional protection to our preservation/conservation land.  

Gonser’s plea failed to gain sufficient support and the motion failed.  Trustee Bailey then moved to accept this first reading of the rezoning for all seven parcels.  Bailey, Keyes, Langlois and Reilly voted aye.  Gonser, McKay and Thalmann voted nay.  The Motion passed.

This topic will be re-visited at the October 8th board meeting when there will be a public hearing and, possibly, a final vote on the re-zoning.  If you support our Parks and Recreation department and Parks Commission please attend and speak up.

Jim Foulkrod


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