Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 25, 2014

Editorial: County needs to let public in on Power Island plans

Peninsula Township officials are probably not the only ones caught off-guard by a Grand Traverse County proposal for the township to take over operations of Power Island.

County residents may be surprised the county’s most high-profile recreation asset could be farmed out to the township. They may also want to know this is part of a new, wider “focus” by the county’s Parks and Recreation Commission to work with outside groups to run recreational programs while the county serves as a sort of “landlord.”

The parks commission scrapped its old strategic plan and wrote a new one to align with that philosophy after four new members joined the board late last year. Chances are pretty good — make that excellent — that no one has asked taxpayers what they think about the county getting out of the recreation business by taking on unnamed partners.

If the county has its way Peninsula would take over operations of the island in West Bay, which the county says is costing $100,000 a year. Where Peninsula will come up with $100,000 a year has yet to be explained — including to township Treasurer David Weatherholt. He said township board members haven’t yet discussed the proposal and some likely don’t even know about the idea.

County Commissioner Dan Lathrop, whose district includes Peninsula Township, said he thinks the island park could be better served. “We’re hoping the Peninsula could take it on and make the island all it could be,” Lathrop said — whatever that means.

So far, the only talk about money has been that this is a good idea because the county could save $100,000 a year to help curb a $1 million deficit. Where will Peninsula get that kind of money? Not spending what’s necessary isn’t an option.

This is similar to the Parks and Recreation board’s recent discussion about Twin Lakes Park, which has been the site of three drownings in the last four years. The recreation board recently talked about leasing the property to a nonprofit.

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