At the April 13, 2016 Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) meeting, Parks Commissioner Roger Schmidt admitted that he attended a PRC subcommittee meeting with the intent that the meeting would be terminated. The official subcommittee members included Alice Tombulian, Ann Marie Rogers and Joe Peruzzi.
Roger Schmidt disregarded previous input from the Parks and Recreation attorney, who stated subcommittee meetings should not have more than three commissioners attend because it could be considered a violation of the Open Meetings Act, since a quorum of the PRC would be present. The Township Board’s attorney agreed with the PRC attorney’s assessment.
Roger Schmidt’s attendance at the subcommittee meeting did result in the meeting being terminated. As a result, any work the subcommittee was attempting to accomplish on a dog park for our Township had stopped. Ironically, in the past, Roger Schmidt has supported having a dog park facility in one of our Township Parks.
Prior to the February 10, 2016 PRC meeting, Chairman Zale asked for volunteers for the dog park subcommittee. Commissioner Schmidt did not respond. The other three members did respond, and were appointed to the subcommittee. Roger Schmidt was upset that he was not selected as a subcommittee member and voted against the subcommittee, as did Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers.
Oakland Township’s Parks and Recreation Commission has been considering establishing a dog park in one of our Township parks. Alice Tombulian was an advocate for this prior to Roger Schmidt and Ann Marie Rogers joining the PRC in 2012. The PRC established the subcommittee mentioned above to recommend in which Township park a dog park would make the most sense. They were to review background dog park information, including work that had been done by a citizen ‘ad hoc dog park committee’. That citizen group had previously recommended Bear Creek Nature Park. Ann Marie Rogers was part of the ‘ad hoc’ group. The Bear Creek proposal had been rejected by the PRC in a 5 to 2 vote for a number of reasons. Ann Marie Rogers and Roger Schmidt wanted to proceed with the Bear Creek proposal as submitted by the citizen ‘ad hoc’ group.
The first subcommittee meeting was held on March 16th. The meeting began with Joe Peruzzi, Alice Tombulian and Ann Marie Rogers attending. The meeting was open to the public. When Roger Schmidt walked in, Chairperson Peruzzi terminated the meeting based on advice from the PRC attorney. The Township Board’s Attorney agreed with that decision.
At the April 13, 2016 PRC meeting, Joe Peruzzi gave a brief description of the March 16th meeting, and why it was terminated.
Ann Marie Rogers stated:
“Commissioner Schmidt attended this dog park ‘charade’ committee as a private citizen. This Commission cannot take away his rights as a resident.
The fact that we even had this meeting is the first place, I believe, was a ‘sham and a charade’. every penny was removed from the Budget.”
To which Parks and Recreation Treasurer Roger Schmidt agreed and said:
Parks and Recreation Manager, Mindy Milos-Dale, corrected Ann Marie and Treasurer Schmidt pointing out that there was $25,000 in the budget for the dog park work.
Commissioner Roger Schmidt stated:
“Another reason I went there (the meeting) was this is a waste of everybody’s time and BY GOING THERE, I KNEW THAT THEY WOULD GO AHEAD AND CLOSE THE MEETING DOWN, because that should have been done. It (the meeting) shouldn’t have been done in the first place.”
During citizen comments, 2016 Parks and Recreation candidate, Beth Markel, defended the presence of Roger Schmidt at the meeting, even though it violated the recommendation of two Township attorneys.
Here is a video of comments made at the April 13th meeting:
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Since the current Parks and Recreation Commission members were elected in 2012, there has been considerable conflict on the Commission. Ann Marie Rogers, Roger Schmidt and 2016 PRC candidate Beth Markel filed a complaint accusing other Commissioners of violating the Open Meeting’s Act. The Court dismissed their charges. They are appealing the Court’s decision.
Roger Schmidt’s admission that he intentionally attended the meeting to cause it to be terminated speaks to the disruptive approach both he and Ann Marie Rogers have taken in dealing with Parks and Recreation issues over the past few years. Last year the two of them got up and left a meeting in anger before the meeting was over. Roger’s lack of understanding that there is $25,000 in the budget for a dog park indicates that he is not qualified to be the Treasurer for the PRC.
The parks in Oakland Township are the envy of many surrounding communities. These parks are the result of years of cooperative and creative work by Parks and Recreation Commissioners. We currently have two Commissioners that appear to want to change the historically non-political nature of the Commission using divisive actions. Oakland Township deserves better than the childish and vindictive behavior (like storming out of the January 14, 2015 PRC meeting , and subverting the efforts of the subcommittee) when things do not go their way.
We will have an opportunity later this year to elect an entirely new Parks and Recreation Commission. Our votes will determine the future direction of our parks. We can elect a group of people that will work together respectful of one another, or continue to have the disruptive behavior that has been present for the last 3+ years. Your votes will have in impact on our Township’s future. Stay tuned for more information on the Parks and Recreation candidates on this website.