State Fairgrounds Development Coalition Letter

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TO: GOVERNOR SNYDER

CC: State House of Representative, State Senate, Detroit City Council, Mayor Bing, Wayne, Oakland & Macomb County Commissioners

With a deadline for developers to submit their bids to the State approaching, we recommend the following uses and considerations for the land:

 Keep the Michigan State Fair at 8 Mile/Woodward, benefiting residents of the 3 counties, as well as being an asset and jewel for the State (1st State Fair in USA). While it has been characterized as a money-loser, a closer look reveals it made money. Despite loss of maintenance and resources — obligations not fulfilled by the past 2 governors, the Fair ‘broke even’ or made a profit. The Fair was removed from the State budget, but the State had to pay for sewerage and security, spending more than if it remained open! Does this make sense? You, Governor Snyder, have the opportunity to correct this, in the favor of the population.

 Preservation of existing buildings and the grove of old growth trees, both historical and useful
 A year-round expo center on the site, with recreational and educational components, (example educational components: voc./tech training in agriculture-related fields & Agriculture Science Institute such as proposed by ICARE II).
 Relationship to both public and commercial transit: buses, M1 Light Rail, commuter and commercial trains. Public transit is KEY.
The above items focus on the priorities of:
1. jobs created, both for construction and permanent jobs, and
2. how the development will affect the future of Detroit metro area, including the three counties: Wayne, Oakland and Macomb.
3. green and new models that are environmentally friendly, which significantly affects #2. For example: a) encouraging enterprises that reduce the city’s carbon footprint: like transportation-related, or energy alternatives (solar, wind, water current components). b) buildings that are energy efficient & that model the future. c) green models that create small business resurgence for a base that benefits both the region and the state.

It Makes Sense

Many businesses, organizations, and officials continue to engage, who have taken the initiative on developing both the fairground and the tri-county area over many past years. Witness positive results: on the Livernois corridor boosted by University Commons, the Woodward corridor boosted by Woodward Avenue Action Association and the Park District, and on the 8 Mile corridor boosted by the Eight Mile Ave. Association. These, along with multi income housing initiatives, neighborhood governance, and an active, aware citizenry (witness the 55,000 signatures collected to save the State Fair in 2009), have strengthened the area considerably. When metro Detroiters put their mind to it, they can accomplish amazing things. Officials should understand these resources, which reach beyond the developer. Fairgrounds development should proceed with this knowledge and in harmony with it.

While the present law that allows for representation from 5 neighborhoods is a good step (the Fairground Advisory Committee); a better law, enabling all affected, would be one like that which allowed the Upper Peninsula to construct their fairground/expo center. It is privately owned and both making a profit and serving the UP. The best law would give supporters here the same opportunity. That only makes sense all the way around.
This letter is meant to highlight pertinent issues of the Fairgrounds development not necessarily considered or understood, and to put before you options we think are viable. Please respond. We thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

–State Fairgrounds Development Coalition, June 25, 2012
Contacts: Dr. Elon Eloni Wilks, 313-580-3735, Joe Keyes, 773-454-3219, Jim Casha, 540-717-9240, Karen Hammer, 313-863-3219

**At the June 21 meeting, the body officially adopted the name ‘State Fairgrounds Development Coalition.’ This is an organization of individuals from communities and businesses, as well as representatives of organizations and municipalities. The mailing list of this coalition contains those who support the State Fair and/or those who are interested in all or certain aspects of the Fairground development. While we have differences, many in the coalition & on our list have contributed in the past, to the right of input on how the fairgrounds should or should not be developed. We endeavor to keep all informed.

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