Controversy over PARC millage in Plymouth

Reports of asbestos in the building

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – There is some controversy brewing over a millage in Plymouth that would raise taxes for a nonprofit involving an old school building, asbestos and up to $40 million.

A Plymouth citizen requested the government share 400 pages of asbestos reports on the old Central Middle School building dating back to the 1970s.

Voters will be asked the question next month: Are they willing to raise their own taxes to have a nonprofit with city backing buy and renovate the building for the arts?

PARC is the Plymouth Arts and Recreation Complex.

PARC president Don Soenen is behind the millage, hoping to spend $15 million to renovate the building.

"We would like to put a performing arts center on this site for another $15 million," Soenen said.

Becky Krupa, daughter of a former Plymouth board member, is against the millage.

"I'm not against PARC in the way they want to do it. What we are against is the fact he's looking for public funding to pay for it," she said.

Krupa believes there is a major problem at PARC.

"There's asbestos in the building," she said.

Most disconcerting to her is Facebook pictures PARC has posted of community groups, high schoolers, Boy Scouts doing renovation work on the PARC building.

"I'm terrified for the people that have been in there. You've had children and families, and you're just doing this construction," she said.

None, she pointed out, is wearing the safety gear the government requires in asbestos-laden buildings. Soenen said yes, there is asbestos in the building.

"Most of the work we're doing here is cosmetic work, so it does not disturb the asbestos," Soenen said. "I don't think it's a coincidence those inspections took place, and we have a clean bill of health on asbestos."

Local 4 reached out to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MiOSHA), one of the agencies that did asbestos inspection there last week.

They did not say whether PARC received a clean bill of health on asbestos. They said it's going to take between a couple of weeks and a couple of months for their report to come back about what they found, which of course is long after the millage vote is held.

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