Troy residents battle proposal to turn green space into preschool center

Residents protest to preserve nature settings

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ® , Derick Hutchinson

TROY, Mich. - There's a battle brewing Monday night in Troy, as residents are unhappy about a proposed land sale.

The city's school board is looking to sell acreage that was originally purchased to build schools and use the cash on preschoolers. But some residents are unhappy with the decision.

Residents said they've come to appreciate the nature setting behind their homes, and they don't want it to change. But if the local community owns that land, the only thing residents can do is protest. So that's what they did Monday at the Troy school board offices.

The protest signs were outside the Troy school district offices in the afternoon, and Crystal Stefaniak was leading the charge.

"We've been losing green spaces in this community for a long time, so if we can't have the people who own the lands (be) the people in power and protect them, we're going to poison our air and our water," Stefaniak said.

She said she's concerned about 19 subdivision-surrounded acres outside her home near Jaycee Park. She said the woods are filled with deer and even a bald eagle.

School board member Karl Schmidt said the city's reasoning is simple.

"These were never purchased as a preserve in any way," Schmidt said. "They were purchased to be developed."

Schmidt said the school board is already in the process of donating 90 acres of green space not far away to create a nature preserve, selling one portion to raise the money so the conservancy chosen to manage the land can do the necessary upkeep.

Schmidt said the school district needs to create a preschool center, and it's going to take money. He said he doesn't want taxpayers to pick up the tab.

"I can't ask you for $20 if I have $10 in my back pocket," Schmidt said. "I want to spend my $10 first."

"They're selling them to developers who are clear-cutting and removing habitat," Stefaniak said.

The land purchase proposal has been ongoing for about 18 months. Some of the protesters said the board snuck this by them and they want more discussion before a vote is taken.

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