After many years, Commerce Township has officially purchased 200 acres of state-owned Proud Lake Recreation Area land.
“This has been a long process. I think the community will be proud to provide this open space,” said Commerce Township Supervisor Tom Zoner.
The purchase — finalized last week — is first of two the township will make of Proud Lake Recreation Area land, located along either side of Wise Road west of Union Lake Road and non-contiguous to the main portion of the recreation area.
The property recently purchased was a 201-acre parcel located on the south side of Wise Road, a piece which was formerly home to a Nike missile base in the 1950s. The price tag for this piece of land was $1.28 million.
The undeveloped, northern parcel to be purchased next spring is larger at 301 acres and has a price tag of $1.52 million. That acquisition be closed on no later than April 15, 2012.
The township will use money generated by a millage authorized by voters in 2004 to purchase the Proud Lake parcels property. The millage was passed at 0.4 mills to be collected over 10 years in order to provide funds to purchase open space and to improve lands for parks and recreation.
According to Zoner, the state has been very cooperative with the township’s needs with regards to the recent purchase.
“We almost had enough money in cash to pay for the land, but that would’ve meant that we would have had to stop any purchases or construction in township parks,” Zoner said. “The state, by allowing us to capture the 2012 tax base (to purchase the second parcel in the spring), gives the Park and Recreation Committee the ability to continue to work on other projects such as the master plan or the development of other park property.”
Meanwhile, under the purchase agreement for the first parcel, the township must adhere to certain stipulations and restrictions, including keeping the property open to the public as open space, wildlife habitat, and public outdoor education purposes; and maintaining it in a generally natural condition.
On the formerly developed Nike missile site, active outdoor recreation facilities and fields, such as a baseball diamond, may be installed as long as the property doesn’t contain sensitive or valued natural characteristics.
The township began working toward acquiring the Proud Lake parcels a few year ago, after the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced plans to sell the land for development, which prompted public opposition and concern.