This article is republished from Press & Guide, originally written by Briana Gaskorski and can be found here.
Two proposed ballot initiatives were turned down by the Dearborn City Council during a special meeting on July 31.
The proposals, one regarding the historical museum and another about the potential sale of 40 acres on the northwest corner of Camp Dearborn, were both rejected by the council.
The historical museum proposal was voted down and the Camp Dearborn proposal never gained enough support for a vote to be called.
The museum millage would have levied a tax increase on residents to fund renovations for the McFadden-Ross House, the Richard Gardner House and the Commandant’s Quarters.
“The renovations would include repairing the paint that is chipping inside and outside,” said Jack Tate, director of the Dearborn Historical Museum. “The millage would equal out to roughly $17.40 per household.”
With an average of 13 people visiting the museum a day, Councilman Robert Abraham raised the question on whether a historical museum is required.
“Does the city of Dearborn really need a historical museum with Henry Ford right down the street?” he said.
Councilman David Bazzy said the city needs to focus on what it needs and not what it wants.
“I want to know the costs,” he said. “How much will the repairs cost? We need to focus on what we need, not what we want.”
Councilwoman Leslie Herrick described the historical museum as a “cultural gem.”
With 3,000 valid, verified signatures, a millage could have appeared on the ballot without the council’s approval; however, the historical society only received 1,650 signatures.
The levy proposal failed 5-1, with Abraham casting the sole “yes” vote to put the issue on the ballot.
“Jack, this is not a testament to the amount of work you have done,” council President Pro-Tem Mike Sareini said to Tate. “You have done a phenomenal job. We just need to find another way to fund these renovations.”
The other issue proposed to council would had authorized the sale of the northwest 40 acres of Camp Dearborn.
The city-owned park located in Milford is currently 626 acres with a golf course, zipline, and a vast camping area that has been the family go-to for year-round fun for generations.
The area that would have been sold currently has the highest density of trailers, least amount of trees and amenities, and is the furthest from all of the camp activities. Most of the trailers in this lot are decades old and haven’t moved.
“This is actually a lengthy process,” Bazzy said. “First, we would have to approve it to go on the ballot for the community to vote on it. If voted ‘yes,’ we would need to submit a proposal to Milford to have them rezone the area to residential instead of recreational. Once that would be authorized, we could look into selling that property because there is realistically no worth as recreational property.”
“Almost 3 years ago, the state came down and said we were in violation and not compliant with state requirements for certain things in the park,” Mayor John O’Reilly said. “There has to be one water spicket per 4 spaces, for example. The proceeds of the sale would be reinvested into Camp Dearborn for these repairs and upkeep that is required.”
If the state were to close down the park for not being compliant, all overnight accommodations would be shut down.
“I love Camp Dearborn,” Councilman Brian O’Donnell said. “But anyone who’s been there knows the camp needs some love. The parking lot needs some love. I hate the idea of doing anything to camp, but I hate the idea of watching it decline before our eyes by doing nothing.”