Sterling Heights approves parks millage

The Detroit News

Some Sterling Heights residents are pretty chummy with their neighbors in Warren. They will become chummier still based on a millage vote Tuesday.

The 0.97 mill, which was approved Tuesday night, will raise $45 million for improvement of parks and recreation in Sterling Heights.

The chummy part is an interlocal agreement between the two cities that will let Sterling Heights residents use the aquatics and fitness center in Warren.

The agreement was contingent on passage of the Sterling Heights property tax hike.

“We’re getting two for the price of one,” resident Amber Mitchell said after voting Tuesday. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

The centerpiece of the improvements is a 120,000-square-foot community center with multipurpose gyms and a walking/jogging track. It will replace the current center, which is 13,000 square feet.

The money also will be used for a splash pad, ice rink, skate park, dog park and disc golf course. It also will fund improvements to the city’s five major parks and 20 of its 26 neighborhood parks.

The millage, which will last 20 years, will cost the owner of a home assessed at $100,000 nearly $78 annual for 20 years.

But resident Kim Giordano said there were more important things to spend the money on, like improvements to roads.

“Parks aren’t our main issues, the streets are,” she said after voting Tuesday. “Let’s focus on the important stuff.”

With the property tax hike approved, the interlocal agreement will allow Sterling Heights residents to use the Warren Community Center’s parks and recreation facilities at a reduced rate, which is the same rate Warren residents pay.

Some 1,600 Sterling Heights residents already use the Warren aquatic center as members or guests paying the higher rate.

In return, Sterling Heights will pay $100,000 annually to Warren. Also, Warren residents will be allowed to use the recreational facilities in Sterling Heights.

The interlocal agreement will last five years with an option to renew it another five years.

Sterling Heights city officials said their residents’ use of the aquatic center in Warren will fill a gap in its recreational activities. It would have been too expensive for Sterling Heights to build its own aquatic center, they said.