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Published: Tuesday, 3/23/2010

New tax on Bedford Township ballot to fix, maintain playgrounds

BLADE STAFF

TEMPERANCE - Bedford Township voters will be asked Aug. 3 to approve a new tax to pay for playground repairs and maintenance at township parks.

The board voted unanimously last week to place a five-year, 0.175-mill property tax - the same millage amount township voters narrowly rejected in 2008 - on the primary ballot.

The tax issue, if approved by voters, can be used only to pay for improvements and operations at township parks and not for the purchase of land or major improvements.

The ballot request was approved last month by the five-member township park commission.

Trustee Paul Francis said the property tax would ensure that the park system's state-of-the-art playground equipment remains in safe condition for users.

Mr. Francis encouraged the park commission to push for passage of the tax.

"I encourage the park board to put a full court press on it," he said.

The property tax would generate an estimated $175,000 in the first year and cost the owner of a $200,000 house with a $100,000 taxable value an extra $17.50 a year in taxes.

In addition to the August, 2008, defeat, millage requests for the park were rejected two other times.

A 0.3-mill property tax request failed in August and November of 2006.

"It is quite a reasonable request," said Trustee Larry O'Dell.

In other action, the board unanimously approved submitting a pair of grant applications to develop Lewis Anstead Community Park at the southeast corner of

Lewis Avenue and Samaria Road.

The applications were prepared by the Mannik & Smith Group Inc., the township's engineering firm, for submission to Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The deadline to submit the paperwork is April 1.

The township is asking for $100,000 through the natural resources trust fund program that would require the township provide $100,000 in matching funds. The township tried unsuccessfully last year to land a trust-fund program.

The township is also submitting an application for a $299,400 federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant being handled by the Department of Natural Resources. The township would be required to provide $100,000.

Barry Buschman of Mannik & Smith told the board that the township could receive money for one of the two grants, not both.

The $100,000 grant would allow for the township to start Phase 1 of the park, including vehicle and parking lot, interior roadway, handicapped parking area, two-mile walking trail, and picnic area.

The larger grant amount would let the township develop the Phase 1 work as well as the additional amenities of a 3 1/2-acre pond and sledding hill.



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