At the May 13, 2014 Board of Oakland Township meeting, ECT, an engineering firm that has been working with our Township Board to get water flowing in the Paint Creek Cider millrace, gave a presentation on the status of their efforts. As previously reported on this website, on January 24, 2014, ECT submitted a request for regional support for a grant submittal that included over $400,000 of Township funds for the project. A portion of those funds would have been for improvements to private property. During questioning, SUPERVISOR GONSER ADMITTED THAT HE HAD MADE THE REQUEST TO HAVE ECT SUBMIT THE REQUEST. His request was NEVER REVIEWED OR DISCUSSED IN A PUBLIC MEETING! This is yet another example of our Supervisor making unilateral decision outside the public’s view.
After ECT made their presentation, the author of this post wanted to ask several questions. Supervisor Gonser was initially not willing to let me ask questions. He ultimately allowed the questions. Here are the questions and the answers provided:
- Who authorized the January submission to the CRWC and PAC?
After some delay in getting a clear answer from the ECR rep, Supervisor Gonser finally responded “The Supervisor specifically!”
- Under what authority was it submitted?
The answer was never provided, however, the ECT rep indicated that the letter was not a grant submittal. He went on to explain that the January letter was submitted to determine if the Clinton River AOC (area of concern) PAC (public advisory council) would endorse an official grant request later. He indicated that the AOC PAC did not support this project, and “that was the end of it”.
The lack of a direct answer to this question indicates that there was no ‘”authority” for making this request. The Township would have been in a very embarrassing position, if the PAC agreed to support the request only to have it later rejected by the Board based on citizen input during a public meeting. The Township request wasted the time of the 25 member community representatives that are part of the PAC.
- Why do you feel it is appropriate to spend public funds on private property?
Once again, the question was not answered. When I mentioned that funds would include improvements on private property, Gonser said “I think that is a leap of faith that is simply untrue.” The ECT rep said to me – “You are right!” (that the letter included costs for improvement on private property because it included costs for the stream bank and the millrace.)
As stated by the ECT rep, the actual dollar amounts could change dramatically, however, it is not “a leap of faith” that public funds would be used on private property. The submitted request explicitly stated so.
- Why did you feel it was not necessary to obtain citizen input, in a public meeting, on this proposal prior to submission to the Clinton River Watershed Council?
The Supervisor did not answer this question, he told me that my time was up.
Stay Tuned as more information will be posted as it becomes available.
Here is a copy of the January letter submitting the project for review:
Here is a video of the May 13 meeting proceedings:
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Having our Supervisor make an implicit commitment for spending tax dollars on a project that includes improvement to private property WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OR DISCUSSION is totally inappropriate and exceeds the Supervisor’s authority. By wasting the time of the 25 member community representatives, reviewing our Township’s proposal, certainly does not help our Township’s credibility on future grant submissions. We may never know what damage has been done in getting the other communities support on future projects.