Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more
Ypsilanti Township residents near the intersection of South Harris and Ecorse Roads may someday get a new community park, owing to the purchase of 8.44 acres of green space approved by township trustees Tuesday.
The four adjacent parcels, which are available for the township to purchase at a reduced price of $59,245, are being offered by the Washtenaw County Treasurer's Office through right of first refusal. The land, foreclosed upon to pay tax debt to the county, would otherwise go to public auction.
The stretch of open, grassy space interspersed with stands of large trees is located between Glenwood Avenue and South Harris Road, just north of Davis Street in Ypsilanti Township. The property was last appraised at a value of $96,000.
Trustees agreed unanimously that the opportunity to buy the land at such a reduced price was something they should not let pass by, especially since the surrounding neighborhood is noticeably lacking in parks and green spaces.
“That area has no green space with the exception of that parcel,” Township Clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe said. “It is identified in our parks and recreation master plan as an area lacking in open space, walking areas or parks.”
Township Treasurer Larry Doe said adding a park to the neighborhood could even have a positive effect on property values and would encourage new residents to move in.
“This is a real positive,” he said. “It's a great opportunity at a very inexpensive cost.”
Township resident Arloa Kaiser asked where the money to pay for the land purchase was coming from, and said she certainly would not want to see her taxes go up because of the decision.
Roe said the township has a property tax millage devoted to raising funds for capital expenses like these, and tax rates would not be impacted by the purchase.
Trustee Mike Martin, who lives nearby the proposed park, said having a good place for kids in the neighborhood to play would be an improvement, since many can now only plan in the yards and streets.
“The last thing we need to do in that neighborhood is to let a developer get it and turn it into condos or whatever they would want to put in there,” Martin said. “Sometimes you have to seize an opportunity when it's presented to you.”
Martin also proposed that a portion of the property, three lots along Glenwood Avenue, could be sold as residential property to help the township recoup some of the money they spent on the property purchase.
Though a park may be possible in the future, in the meantime the land will likely be held as it is now by the township, Parks and Recreation Director Art Serafinski said.
“At this point, we don't have any immediate plans to do any development out there,” Serafinski said. “More than likely we will just keep it as a natural green space right now.”
The township did not have any plans prepared to develop the land because the property became available for purchase so quickly, he said. If the township does decide to invest money into developing the property, there would first be a probe into what members of the surrounding community would like to see happen to the land.
“We usually have meetings with the neighborhoods to find out how they would like to see it developed,” Serafinski said. “I'm sure that would happen, but I don't see it happening in the immediate future.”