Category Archives: Trails and Safety Paths

A Conversation with Andy Zale – Candidate for Oakland Township Supervisor

** EDITORIAL Comment **

Jim Foulkrod

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.

Jim Foulkrod

 

 

Gonser, moving trees, shows his ability to plan and execute… Deja oops!

On July 9th Gonser agreed in court to remove trees he had planted on his neighbor’s property a number of years ago.  This was part of a settlement agreement when his neighbor requested a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against him. Read that story here. According to the neighbor, Gonser had selected the tree locations and dug the planting holes himself and he was aware that there were underground utilities in the area.

On July 23rd, a crew hired by Gonser moved the trees and a Consumers Power gas line was broken creating an emergency situation and requiring a crew with heavy equipment to come out to repair the line.

Consumers Power Repair crew at Gonsers

We all make mistakes, right?  Who among us has not planted fast growing maple trees on our neighbors’ property on top of a gas line?

This reminds me of his “Good News Trail” plan that I wrote about a year ago.  He unilaterally announced that the township would construct a trail north of Flagstar Bank on township property bordering Flagstar property and the Paint Creek.  A trail on this property was not remotely feasible.  It slopes 45 degrees.  It is in a protected stream bank and would require an impossible DNR approval.   I thought, at the time, that Gonser had only looked at the property on a map and had never visited the site.  Seeing now how he approached his tree planting project, I think maybe he had actually looked at the Flagstar property, saw some flat land where he could build a trail and assumed it was his to do with as he wanted.  Does his imperial mind just work that way?

Jim Foulkrod

Hills of Oakland Bailout – Old Promises, New Threats

On Wednesday, May 8th I was interviewed by the Safety Paths and Trails Committee regarding my application to serve on that committee.  The committee members Alice Tomboulian and Ron Hein were present. Committee member Treasurer Langlois joined the meeting by phone and Township Manager Ann Capela was also present.

Ron is President of the Hills of Oakland subdivision homeowners association.   At the 10/1/13 Planning Commission meeting Mr. Ron Hein, then a  Planning Commissioner newly appointed by Supervisor Gonser and the Board, volunteered to serve on the Township Safety Paths and Trails Committee saying “I have a little bit of a vested interest in this.”

Early in the interview Ron asked if I was still opposed to using trails millage money to maintain the Safety Paths that are owned by the Hills of Oakland subdivision.   When I responded saying that I had not changed my mind we began a discussion during which Hein said:

  • the Hills of Oakland does not have the money to maintain their safety paths;
  • they have no legal obligation to maintain their safety paths;
  • “We could just let them turn to dirt.”

There was no objection to these statements from Treasurer Langlois or Manager Capela.

Ron Hein as President of the Hills of Oakland Subdivision Association is charged on page 1 of their Declaration Of Restrictions with the responsibility of “promoting the recreation, health, safety and welfare of the residents”.  That Mr. Hein would propose in a public meeting where he represents the Planning Commission that safety paths in use by the public could be allowed to deteriorate, develop cracks and holes, expose tree roots, become unsafe, crumble and eventually “turn to dirt”, is cause for alarm.

In October he told us why he wanted a seat on the trails committee (his “vested interest”).  Now he has told us about the level of concern he has for community safety.

The idea that our trails millage money could be used by subdivision homeowners associations was first proposed in the form of a campaign promise made by now Supervisor Terry Gonser during the run up to the Aug. 2012 Primary Election.

So we, voters and taxpayers, see our new leadership in action, fulfilling their campaign promises.  If we don’t pony up our money to bail out the residents of the Hills of Oakland Subdivision they threaten to allow their publicly used safety paths to “turn to dirt”.

Are you concerned yet?

Jim Foulkrod

Supervisor Gonser’s REAL views on trails, pathways, bike paths and environmental protection

No hiking biking wetlands

Supervisor Gonser’s true views have come out on Safety Paths, Trails, Bike Paths, Wetland Protection.  His views are contrary to our Township motto “Curamus Terram” – “We care for the land”.

On January 20th, an Oakland Township Republican meeting was chaired by Oakland Township’s Lead Precinct captain, John Reilly, the husband of Oakland Township’s Clerk – Karen Reilly.  There were approximately 20 people there including Supervisor Gonser, Township Clerk Reilly, our Township Treasurer’s husband Joe Langlois, at least two of our Township’s Republican Precinct Captains, four of our Parks Commissioners (one left after listening to State Representative Tom McMillin) , one of our Zoning Board of Appeals members, our State Representative Tom McMillin (for a portion of the meeting) and other citizens.  One of the agenda items was:

“The Republican establishment’s ‘war’ on the Tea Party and Libertarians at both the National and State Levels – What should we do?”

One of the citizens asked what is the difference between the Republican Establishment and the Tea Party Republican.  During that discussion, one of the participants asked “What is this Agenda 21 issue all about?”  He wanted someone to explain it and why many Tea Party Republicans have brought that up as an issue.

Supervisor Gonser then stated:

  • Agenda 21 initiatives are having a significant impact on the Township
  • Property rights are impacted
  • It controls how property is developed
  • It has to do with environmental mischief that is going on in the Township
  • It is being put into our codes and ordinances
  • Safety paths and trails are a big example
  • Bike lane on roads are an example
  • You’ve got to understand the overreaching umbrella and the strategy
  • Oakland Township’s Ordinances 102 ( the nuisance ordinance) and 103 ( the performance standards Ordinance ) are clearly Agenda 21.
  • Our ordinance 97 wetlands ordinance is clearly Agenda 21
  • A lot of this is Agenda 21 because if you look at the overriding umbrella of Agenda 21 it is to eliminate the automobile, to eliminate all sorts of motorized transportation except mass transit and have heavy emphasis on bicycles.

John Markel, one of the Zoning Board of Appeals appointees of Supervisor Gonser, was present at that meeting.  John commented that while he was driving to work on a snowy day, he realized that the safety trails are only used ‘half of the year’.  He went on to indicate that he did not think it made sense to put in that costly infrastructure and only use it 6 months of the year. He agreed that it made sense in the Carolinas, but not here.

John was personally recommended by Supervisor Gonser for the Zoning Board of Appeals.  His appointment clearly indicates the direction that Gonser intends to take our Township.

Although several citizens have tried to get Supervisor Gonser to explain his position on Agenda 21, this is the first time that he has verbalized his thoughts on how he believes the UN Global Conspiracy has influenced our Township’s ordinances.

So what really is Agenda 21?

In 1992 the United Nations approved a document called Agenda 21. It is a non-binding agreement signed by 178 countries. It promotes sustainable development that simultaneously promotes economic growth, improved quality of life, and environmental protection. President George H.W. Bush was among the 108 world leaders present at the UN conference when the document was adopted.  A copy of the document is attached at the bottom of this posting.

Our Beautiful Township has benefited from a dedication to the protection of forests, wetlands, waterways and natural features.  Many of our environmental protection ordinances predate UN Agenda 21 by many years. Now we have elected a Township Supervisor who believes our past practices are part of what the Tea Party believes is a global conspiracy.  Oakland Township will not benefit from far right wing reaction to an imaginary global conspiracy.

I was an Oakland Township Planning Commission member for 26 years until 2008, and Chair for a number of years.  During all those years, I had never heard of “Agenda 21”, but listened to many citizens say “curamus terrum” – “we care for our land” when they  provided input that guided our recommendations.  Any linkage that our Supervisor and the other extremist right-wing members of our current Board think exists between this obscure agreement at the UN, only exists in the minds of those with an extreme Tea Party ideology.

To get a better idea of what the extreme conservatives in the Tea Party believe will be the outcome of the UN Agenda 21 initiatives, please watch a video that Glenn Beck, a famous conservative, has produced to promote his book “Agenda 21” .

Watch the Video.

Why is this important to the Citizens of Oakland Township?  Our Community has historically been a leader in preserving land, supporting Paths and Trails and many things that other communities have come to envy our Township for possessing.  Our citizens have supported these initiatives through various millages to enhance our community.  Now we have a Supervisor and Board members, our decision makers, who clearly do not support the things Oakland Township has historically stood for.

The    citizens of Oakland Township need to recognize that Washington is not the only place where the extremism of Tea Party Republicans exist – They ARE the leaders in OUR Township and will be making decisions that may significantly change the character of our Township!  Please get involved!  Begin by looking at the many things that our Board has done over the past year that have been documented on this website.

Here is a copy the non-binding Agenda 21 agreement:

Agenda 21 document

Richard Michalski

Treasurer Langlois announces monthly Public Safety Path and Trails meeting

PLEASE ATTEND DECEMBER 4TH MEETING IF YOU HAVE INTEREST IN

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP SAFETY PATHS AND TRAILS!

At the end of the November 20 Board of Oakland Township meeting, Treasurer Langlois announced that there will be a monthly Safety Path and Trails meeting open to the public.  She announced that the first of these meeting will take place on December 4th at 7:00 PM at the Paint Creek Cider Mill.  

Langlois indicated that the group is in the formative stages, but she invited all interested residents to participate in the meeting.  This group will provide direction on how the Safety Path and Trails fund moneys will be used to add to  and improve the Trails and Paths in our Township.

 A copy of the 2010 Safety Path and Trails Master Plan is attached for your information, as well as the 2011/2012 High Priority Trails and Path Segments plan.

Trails Master Plan – 2010

Trails High Priority – 2011/2012

Here is a video of Treasurer Langlois’ announcement.

Richard Michalski

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  As some of you may recall, earlier this year, there was a very contentious issue among residents and the Township Board regarding a trail that had been proposed along Adams Road.  That plan was rejected.  This committee will work diligently to ensure that similar issues do not occur in the future.  Oakland Township is famous for our Paths and Trails.  Your participation will insure our Paths and Trails continue to be the envy of other communities.

Gonser Defeated on Another Pet Trail Project

Nov 22, 2013.  Supervisor Gonser had previously (July 29 2013) announced a trail project that I dubbed his “Good News Trail”.  That project was unbuildable because of the terrain.  It was clear that he had not looked at the land before deciding to build it and we have heard nothing of it since.  At Wednesday’s Board meeting he tried again, asking the Board to approve a sidewalk to connect the planned pedestrian  crosswalk on the replacement bridge on Orion Road with the Paint Creek Cider Mill parking lot.  His documentation for the project was a sketch drawing with few dimensions.  The estimate was not included in the information provided to the Board.  This plan had never been seen by either the Planning Commission or the Trails Committee.  2013_11_20 BOT Trail Sketch

The Board of Trustees indicated dissatisfaction with the plan.

Treasurer Langlois “I don’t know if this is the right place for this trail” 

Trustee Buxar  “You are putting Pedestrians and cars awfully close here”

Trustee McKay “Where does it go?  It ends at the bridge!  Where do the people start?”

Supervisor Gonser sees  where this is going and blames Federal Government safety regulations.

Let’s review Gonser’s accomplishments on trails and safety paths:

  1. He kills (by deliberate inaction) the $1.1million in approved grant funding for the Adams Rd. Safety Path.
  2. He proclaims the unbuildable “Good News” trail. (see the first paragraph)
  3. He spends Parks and Trails funds on engineering work for a parking lot because he wants to get it done really fast.   All that work needs to be re-done.
  4. He appoints a person to the planning commission and tells him that it would be ok to ask to join the Trails Committee so he can pursue the idea of using taxpayer money to repair safety paths  owned by his subdivision.
  5. And now this, an ill thought out sidewalk proposal that goes nowhere and has serious safety concerns.

The Trails Committee will have a public meeting Dec. 4th at 7PM at the Paint Creek Cider Mill.  This will begin their practice of having public meetings.  Anyone who is concerned about the fate of the tax money that we are paying into the Safety Paths and Trails Millage should attend.

Jim Foulkrod

Marshview Connector Parking Lot Subcommittee Meeting – Cooperative, Productive & Troubling

The Oct.16th meeting of the Marshview connector parking lot project subcommittee was cordial, cooperative and productive.  In attendance were:

  • Board of Trustees – Terry Gonser and Maureen Thalmann
  • Parks Commission  –  David Mackley, Joe Peruzzi, Andy Zale
  • Parks Department – Mindy Milos-Dale
  • Paint Creek Trail Commission – David Becker, Kritstin Meyers
  • Oakland Township Safety Paths and Trails Committee – none

The purpose of this subcommittee is to move forward on the plan for a parking lot on two parcels on Orion Road, adjacent to the Paint Creek Trail that are owned by Parks.  The subcommittee was formed because there has been a lot of controversy about this project due to:

  1. The project was launched independently by Supervisor Gonser;
  2. without Board of Trustees authorization;
  3. without Parks Commission authorization;
  4. the assumption that it would be funded with Trails Millage money;
  5. after objections raised at a Planning Commission meeting about funding it with our trails millage Gonser began splitting the expenses between general funds, parks funds and trails funds;
  6. Parks has objected to the use of their funds without their authorization.

After reviewing the first site plan that Gonser had ordered, the committee agreed that a new concept plan is needed that at least studies a number of things that weren’t considered by the current plan.  The committee authorized new work to reflect the feasibility of:

    1. Equestrian use, most importantly room for large horse trailers to park and turn around and maybe even hitching rails;
  1. Possible picnic tables;
  2. Possible playscape;
  3. Possible nature trail loop;
  4. Consideration of using the northern parcel for some or all of the project;
  5. A safer trail down to the Paint Creek Trail.

The bottom line is most of the work Gonser had authorized was a waste of time and money and needs to be re-done.  We did, at least, get a topographical survey of the southern parcel that will be useful.

Gonser then spoke to the meeting about an alternative plan sketched by an engineering firm who agreed to do it without payment.  He said that he couldn’t share the plan with the committee at this time because he had not paid for it. Gonser said this new plan could be done for $25k rather than the $100k that township’s engineering firm, PEA, had estimated.

  • Mindy replied saying she has done other parking lots of similar size where the gravel alone cost $20k so she thought Gonser’s firm should take another look at it.   Gonser said he could get the gravel for free. 
  • The Committee agreed that Supervisor Gonser could contact his unnamed firm and ask them to submit a formal proposal.

The point to be made here is that Supervisor Gonser, although he was amiable and agreeable, continued to attempt to dominate the process by getting ahead of everyone and going his own way.

Jim Foulkrod