By Jim Newell
The Orion Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Monday to contribute $295,000 toward purchasing property at 508 S. Broadway St. on behalf of the Orion Veterans Memorial Board.
The purchase price of the property is $317,500, with the Orion Veterans Memorial Board contributing $25,000 to the township’s contribution.
The township board approved the request to transfer funds from the township’s General Fund Fund Balance to the General Capital Improvement Fund, according to a Dec. 29 memo from Budget and Procurement Director Ashley Coyle requesting the transfer.
“The purchase agreement has been signed by the Township Supervisor and the Earnest Money Deposit has been paid,” Coyle wrote in the memo.
“The offer was accepted for the purchase price of $317,500. Currently, the Veterans Memorial is poised to make a contribution to the township of $25,000, and the rest the township is working on an agreement with township board, as well as the township attorney and the Orion Veterans Memorial Board to make out the details of the repayment of the balance,” Supervisor Chris Barnett said.
508 S. Broadway St. is the property directly north of the Orion Veterans Memorial. Currently, Edible Arrangements leases space in the building on the property. Barnett said the board will honor the terms of the lease agreement with Edible Arrangements.
The township owns the property – “the dirt” that the existing Veterans Memorial sits on, and has a lease agreement with the Orion Veterans Memorial Board for $1 per year, Barnett said. The Veterans Memorial Board pays for all of the monuments, pavilion, lighting, parking lot and surface improvements on the property.
“The Veterans Memorial board has for many years been looking to acquire additional property in order to have parking for their events, have meeting space – we currently rent a facility,” said Barnett, who serves on the Orion Veterans Memorial Board. “The Veterans Memorial Board has been requesting our assistance and has been working very diligently for many years attempting to buy nearby property.”
The Orion Veterans Memorial board is a non-profit organization whose revenue stream is donations and grants.
“We will own the property, just like we own the property to the south,” Barnett said, adding that he hopes the Veterans Memorial Board will continue to work toward raising money to “bolster and protect that beautiful memorial there. But even if we don’t get a penny back, I think this is a good decision for the township long-term.”
“I’m totally for this purchase because I think it’s a great move for the veterans,” Treasurer Donni Steele said.
“We are not loaning the veterans any money, because we are prohibited from loaning money,” said Dan Kelly, the township’s attorney, adding that the township will own the property.
“If there is a repayment to the township, it will be by way of a separate lease, where the veterans would pay us for use of the property,” Kelly said. “And that way we can get reimbursed and when we get reimbursed to our full amount, maybe we transfer it to what we currently have going with the veterans, which is a $1 a year lease. But no matter what happens, the township will continue to own both parcels.”
Board members discussed the purchase in closed session at the Dec. 7 board meeting.
“The board is familiar with this, (but) this is the first time we’ve talked about it publicly,” Barnett said.
Under the Open Meetings Act, governing boards are allowed to discuss some items in private, including property purchases in order to negotiate the best deal.