** EDITORIAL Comment **
Andy Zale, currently the Chairman of the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission, recently announced his candidacy for the office of Oakland Township Supervisor. Andy and I recently had a wide ranging conversation about his reasons for running and the goals he wants to pursue if he is elected to the Office.
Our Supervisor must work better with the township staff and the Board of Trustees
Among the first things Andy told me was that he wants to Improve the relationship between the Township Supervisor and the Township staff and employees. There has been too much turnover among the people who serve the township. To some degree this loss of experienced talent has been caused by their interactions with the Township Supervisor. Andy’s goal is to establish a standard of cordiality and mutual respect in working with the staff and consultants.
He would also work to Improve the tone and tenor of the Supervisor’s leadership of Board of Trustee Meetings. Over the several years Supervisor Gonser’s leadership style has tended towards one of divisiveness, conflict, disrespect and petulance. In one case his remarks were so slanderous that it was necessary for him to publicly apologize at a subsequent meeting. Andy’s tenure as Chairman of the Parks commission has been a demonstration of professionalism and leadership.
Planning and Zoning is important to our township
Andy said he is concerned that the Township’s current zoning ordinance is out of step with our Master Plan. Early in 2010 the Planning Commission completed work on a new Zoning Ordinance that was intended to support the 2005 Master Plan. The Commission forwarded the completed ordinance to the Board of Trustees with a recommendation that the Board vote their approval and put it into effect. A group of citizens, some of whom were subsequently elected to the Board of Trustees in 2012, were vocal in their opposition to the new Zoning Ordinance and caused the Board of Trustees to delay its enactment. It is still waiting to be approved. Andy will make it a high priority to get this cornerstone of our ordinances into effect.
Our Parks and Trails need to be supported
Supervisor Gonser, supported by Trustee Bailey who is currently also running for Supervisor, led an attack on our parks and the Parks Commission. Gonser has opposed the trails plan from the beginning and Trustee Mike Bailey was very outspoken in encouraging the Board to reject the $1.7 million of grant money that would have built the Adams Road trail. As a result of their actions the nearly three million dollars of our tax money that we have already been assessed since we approved the millage in 2006 has, so far, yielded only 330 feet of completed Safety Path.
To Andy this is an unacceptable failure to respect the voters will as represented by both their approval of the millage and their responses to Township voter surveys . Andy, an outdoors enthusiast, has demonstrated his support for our parks and trails. As Supervisor Andy will work to see that our trails millage is used in the way that the millage proposal mandates – “for the construction and maintenance of a network of safety paths, trails and boardwalks to provide healthy recreational opportunities and safe routes to schools, parks and neighborhoods in the Township”.
Terry Gonser needs to be defeated
This publication has not been shy about saying that Gonser has not served this township well and that he should not be our Township Supervisor. Voters have an opportunity to make a much needed change.
We are facing a three candidate race for Township Supervisor. Andy Zale has what it will take to win. He understands that Terry Gonser will again run an aggressive campaign leveling untrue charges against himself and Mike Bailey . Gonser will again make vacant promises to special interests. Andy has the courage, energy, dedication and stamina to take the high road in this campaign and emerge as the winner.
I urge everyone to vote in the August 2 2016 primary election and to vote for Andy Zale for Oakland Township Supervisor.
Mr. Foulkrod –
What facts can you can provide to support your allegation about Trustee Bailey in this comment in your above editorial? – “Supervisor Gonser, supported by Trustee Bailey who is currently also running for Supervisor, led an attack on our parks and the Parks Commission.”
On the contrary, Trustee Bailey was, for example, instrumental in supporting Parks Commission by helping stop Supervisor Gonser’s attempt to take control of the Land Preservation Millage from the Parks Commission.
The Adams Road Safety Path was to be approved and funded by the Board controlled Trails Millage that has absolutely nothing to do with the Parks Commission. I found the Board’s rejection of this project to be very logical and sound after my own extensive review of all the materials provided to the Board. The rejection was based on questionable safety (too steep for kids) , high cost , likely very high maintenance costs of extensive railroad-trestle-like boardwalks and the need for eminent domain to build it.
I wasn’t going to bring it up at this point but I need to thank you for raising the issue that is preventing any effective use of our trails tax money, ” the need for eminent domain”. In 2007 I was asked to be a member of the initial trails committee. We knew that eminent domain would be needed to build a network of trails and safety paths connecting neighborhoods, parks and schools. The committee worked to create a process that would allow us to succeed in acquiring necessary easements using eminent domain. Among our first high priority projects was the completion of the few, small missing segments of the Dutton, Adams, Silverbell, Brewster Loop. This loop would serve the many residents of the area for a small amount of money. We followed our procedure and several landowners refused our offers of compensation for their easements. The next step would have been eminent domain. Today the loop is still incomplete, the public is underserved and the tax money is unused. The voters and our Supervisor, Treasurer, Clerk and Trustee candidates should understand that this will be the future of trails in Oakland Township if eminent domain will not be used.
I can recall several actions that ultimately proved to be detrimental to the township and without merit or cause that were initiated by Terry Gonser that were, in fact, supported by Trustee Mike Bailey, either by his direct vote of support or his complicit silence.
How do each of the candidates stand on fixing the roads? Tar and chip? Limestone? Leave them as is?
I was not for the Adams Road path and was glad it was voted down. It was a very dangerous idea and would have been quite a liability for safety to Oakland Township. Adams Road between Gunn Rd. and Orion Rd. is a very steep hill; and with two streams and wetlands, it seemed like a disaster in the making. I could not imagine sending a 7 year old down this proposed path. I am confused on what Mr. Zale is saying here. He was for the Adams Road path, but did he take an active part in supporting the path at the meetings? I do not recall him taking a stand in the public forum. Many people came to the meeting and spoke up. Where was he?
Now Oakland Township has an established Safety Paths and Trails Committee, which has paths ready to break ground. Has he made any citizen statements forwarding his ideas to the public at those meetings? I feel the chair Libby Dwyer and the rest of the committee members (Ron Hein, Craig Blust, Alice Tomboulian, Jeanne Langlois, and Laurel Johnson) has been very productive. Is Mr. Zale saying that the Safety Path committee is doing a bad job? That is a swift kick to that group of volunteers on the committee. Maybe Mr. Zale should have volunteered to join them if he feels they need his mentoring.
I do not like eminent domain. A resident may be giving up their land because they agree with the project, or they don’t mind selling their land. The Adams Road residents may not agreed with the project, and this was their way of voting against it. Or they may not have wanted the invasion of their property with strangers. I don’t agree with taking an owners property because a path cannot fit on the road commission land.I don’t care how much land that property owner holds, I feel it is not right. Does this mean that Mr. Zale supports eminent domain? Would he want a public path going through his property?
I don’t believe Mike Bailey spear-headed the vote against the path. His stand was that the path was not practical and was dangerous. Other members of the board of trustees voted it down, does that mean they also “speared-headed” others into the decision? The motion was made by Langlois and seconded by Keyes to find an alternate path route. In all I believe it was the responsible decision to not build the Adams Road path. I want paths and trails, but like the title of the Oakland Township SAFETY Paths and Trails committee reflects, I also want a mature attitude in selecting locations for path that are “safe” for all. R. Miller
Perhaps my post was not sufficiently clear and therefore confusing. I am reporting on a conversation that I had with Andy not an interview. Much of the content that you have questions about were my thoughts and voice. Andy was interested but did not agree with all of my thoughts about Mike Baily, the Safety Paths Committee and eminent domain. So please take issue with me, not Andy, unless my post attributes an opinion to Andy by using words like “Andy told me”, “Andy said” or “He said”. Sorry for the confusion.