Dearborn Park is located at th...
ROSE TOWNSHIP, Michigan – Longtime residents Roger and Sharon Caster will be making hay while the sun shines again this year after Rose Township officials voted to allow them haying privileges in the township’s new Dearborn Park in exchange for a myriad of other tasks they provide like tree removal, brush hogging and discarded tire disposal.
The matter was discussed at the April 11 Rose Township Board of Trustees meeting.
Located at the corner of Davisburg and Milford Roads, Dearborn Park is approximately 100-acres in size, and was acquired by the township sometime in the 1980s, Trustee Dave Gordon said.
With a beautiful hilly topography dotted by hardwood trees, the eventual plan for Dearborn Park is to host rustic hiking trails, and eventually, some play equipment for families and children.
While the Casters have helped maintain Dearborn Park over the last several years, they have also assisted the township in other tasks like assisting the fire department with tree removal and hay or grass fires, picking up discarded tires along rural roadways, and assisting during the township’s annual clean-up day.
“Roger brings his back hoe out to grass fires and sometimes hay fires where for hours, he flips the hay over and over while the firefighters apply water,” Trustee Dianne Scheib-Snider read from a prepared statement. “Trees down in Rose Township during and after storms are taken care of by our firefighters – to wait on the county to do this would be too long of a wait, and could create no access areas during emergencies,” she said. “Many times Roger has called Sharon and had her bring the back hoe and all its hooks and chains out to move trees that are too big for our firefighters to move on their own.”
As far as Dearborn Park is concerned, Scheib-Snider said the Casters are largely responsible for the ongoing improvements that have been made there.
“Roger has already used his back hoe this year to help me remove all the rotting metal posts along Davisburg Road where we just put in the new fence,” she said. “He cleans things up that are dumped there and takes care of the fallen trees.”
Scheib-Snider said the Casters pick up an average of 100 abandoned tires per year along the township’s rural roadways, storing them at their home until the township’s annual clean-up day. “This is something I learned from our former supervisor, Alison Kalcec who also called Roger when the residents called her with dumping complaints.”
In return, the township has in years past allowed the Casters to hay approximately 20-acres of the 100-acre parcel, something they say they then use as feed for their livestock.
Treasurer Sue Slaughter said she was not in favor of entering another “agreement” with the Castors this year, and thinks the haying option should be put out for bid.
“I think part of the thing is we are trying to clean up these, ‘You do this for me, and I’ll let you do that,’ to try and clean things up,” she said. “If there is going to be a contract for haying, then I think it should go out to bid.”
“So who’s going to take care of the township park?” Gordon asked. “Who’s going to pick up trees? Who’s going to brush hog it? Who’s going to pick up tires?”
Content with the agreement, Gordon said the Casters’ work not only makes the township look better, but saves the taxpayers a lot of money in the process.
“This has worked out really good for a long time,” he said. “It’s not hay – it’s grass and if Sharon and Roger weren’t doing what they’re doing there, I’d say sure, but I don’t see an issue,” he added. “They do a great job, and they carry the liability insurance that we require on this.”
Clerk Debbie Miller agreed with Slaughter, saying that the agreement isn’t fair to others who may wish to “hay” the property. “Everybody appreciates what (the Casters) do,” Miller said. “The issue is we’re getting questioned why we’re not offering that to other people that are willing to pay us.
“So if you don’t do an RFP, then you’re telling people to forget it – that we’re not going to let anybody else in and you’re not going to be allowed to bid on it,” Miller said. “That’s not right, either,” she added. “When we come in the office and they’re standing in front of you, how are you going to answer them, Dave?”
“Roger brush hogs – Roger picks up trees for us – Roger mowed until we got somebody else to mow,” Gordon said.
“That’s not what they’re asking,” Miller answered. “They’re asking why they can’t get in on this.”
“Because they’re not brush hogging – they’re not picking up trees,” Gordon said.
As Slaughter was stating that the two issues – maintenance of the Dearborn property and the township’s clean-up day should be separate, Gordon made the motion to allow the Casters to hay the property in return for all the services they provide. Scheib-Snider seconded his motion.
In a vote of 3-2, the motion passed with Miller and Slaughter casting the dissenting votes.