Choose Your Poison
"There has been a state police presence at the meetings," says Patrick Zieske, a Sylvan resident and founder of the local citizens' group Free Sylvan. "[Board members] feel very threatened by us. They've been there for a long time. If nothing else, I think we've accomplished something by getting people out to the board meetings. It was a sleepy little town before, and it's kind of woken up."
Nothing sounds a community-wide alarm like a millage proposal--especially when it's one designed to address a $13.2 million debt accrued from old development deals gone bad and a water and sewer project that benefits few of the township's 2,500 citizens.
"Up until I saw the notices in the paper about the town hall meetings [regarding the proposed millage], I didn't know anything about it," says Free Sylvan member Vicki Murdock. "We were not aware of how bad the situation was, what it was going to cost us, and for how long. Unfortunately, we had our head in the sand."
Even those who have been following the Sylvan Township issues for the last decade might share that confusion and disbelief. The $13.2 million debt comes from bonds issued on the township's behalf by Washtenaw County. Sylvan spent that money to build a $7.5 million sewer system and a $5 million water system.