The Commerce Township Board of Trustees voted Tuesday, April 12 to table a Parks and Recreation Committee recommendation to accept a Preservation Master Plan Report for the Historic Byers Homestead Park.
According to Commerce Supervisor Tom Zoner, the board decided to table the matter until its next meeting, as members hadn’t received the full report prior to the April 12 meeting.
The preservation report was prepared by Ronald Campbell, an Oakland County principal planner/preservation architect. He was asked by the Friends of Byers, a non-profit group, to volunteer what he thought Commerce Township ought to do to preserve the site, according to Zoner.
“(The report) covers a lot of territory. There are a lot of intricate little things in it,” Zoner said.
The Byers Homestead is believed to be the site of the first white settlement in Commerce, built by Abram Walrod in the 1820s.
In his preservation report, Campbell provides a history of the site that suggests it should be relisted on the state and National Register of Historic Places due to its tie to the development of Commerce Township.
The Byers site lost its state historic designation after the demolition of the Byers family home, which was built in 1950. Because the home was beyond corrective repair, it was demolished by the township in 2006.
In the report, Campbell suggests that reapplying for historic designation based upon the entire history of the site and not just the Byers connection would help elevate the site’s stature and help it qualify for historic preservation funding through grants and donations.
Yet, Campbell also outlines a number of future steps that should be taken to preserve the site regardless if it receives historic designation, such as making repairs to the buildings located on the property and using the site for different preservation and adaptive uses, such as turning the remaining house on the site into a museum and hosting special events and programs there.
Also listed in the report is a variety of priority projects along with cost estimates, the first of which is the renovation of the barn roof.
A copy of the report can be attained through the township Clerk’s Office.