|Peter Pace is the owner of Tri-Star Enterprises Construction Services. He is the vice chairman of the Commerce Township Parks and Recreation Committee, a member of the Planning Commission, chairman of the Entertainment Committee and founded the Concert in the Park Series. In addition, is serve on the Lower Straits Lake Preservation Committee and the Edgewood Homeowners Association. He also did reconstruction work following Hurricane Katrina and various Florida hurricanes.|
Peter Pace is one of six Republicans competing in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary election for one of four trustee spots on the Commerce Township Board of Trustees. Trustees serve four-year terms and are currently paid $100 per meeting.
There are no Democrats running for the four seats, so the top four vote-getters will win a term on the Board of Trustees
The following are questions our staff recently posed to Pace and his response to those questions.
BUDGET: Years of revenue decline prompted by falling home values and other reasons have forced a variety of budget cuts. What changes in township budgeting priorities or processes do you advocate to deal with these hurdles? Where could the township’s budget be trimmed back? What, if anything, in the budget should be held harmless from the budget ax?
PACE: As a small business owner, a member of two Commerce Township boards, community preservation boards and a 24-year resident of the township, I have witnessed first-hand the negative impacts of a declining economy. I know that budgets must follow revenue sources and, in the case of Commerce Township, declining property values have forced budget cuts and constraints. I am a big proponent of setting realistic budgets, providing constant, line-by-line budget monitoring by each department, and requiring full disclosure of all planned expenditures. As a new trustee, I would not be encumbered by past budget practices and I would bring a balanced view to what is truly necessary for Commerce’s growth. Public safety and the preservation of recreational pursuits will always be priorities for me.
MARTIN PARKWAY: The current economic climate and deterioration in the real estate market has hindered the Downtown Development Authority’s ability to sell the DDA property along Martin Parkway to developers for local and national retail stores. Now the township has to help repay DDA bonds. What, if anything, needs to be done differently to ensure that land can be developed? What is your vision for that area of Commerce Township, and the development of the township in general?
PACE: Martin Parkway is a beautiful road with great potential. It serves little purpose now to second-guess the decision that was made to develop the area. No one could have predicted the economic and real estate collapse. What is important is how we move ahead.
We are currently experiencing renewed interest from developers on this project. I would support an expanded marketing effort and a full review of the site’s master plan. As a member of the township Planning Commission, I have enough experience to realize the need for total open-mindedness going forward.
A new approach combining “pocket parks,” residential use and commercial development may be needed, perhaps even incorporating a revenue-producing public-use entity. I do not believe tax abatements are the only solution — not at the continued expense of other taxpayers.
PARKS AND RECREATION: The township has for some time been in the process of acquiring a portion of the Proud Lake State Recreation Area, a final step in which has been put on hold because of state payments in lieu of taxes. Does the township need more open space? Why or why not? What additional steps, if any, would you like the township to take to make sure residents have abundant parks and recreation opportunities?
PACE: I have long been a dedicated supporter of developing and maintaining a first-class system of parks for recreational purposes. As a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee, I believe we are close to achieving this goal. The passage of the special millage in 2005 and the subsequent purchase of portions of the Proud Lake State Recreation Area were absolutely necessary. The question of acquiring more land, or improving existing parks in an important one. I support a balanced approach in both areas.
Commerce needs to develop community parks in areas of the township not currently served, but we also need to make improvements in our existing parks. There is a five-year master plan in place, and it needs to be followed. Partnerships with leagues and organizations need to be expanded to control costs, and I am not opposed to selling a portion of recreational land to the county if it improves our overall parks system.
WATER TOWER: The proposed location of a $5.8-million water tower in Commerce Township that would save $1.3 million annually was recently nixed after residents of the area originally considered for the tower protested. Explain why you do or don’t support the proposed water tower project. If you support construction of a water tower, where should it be placed and why?
PACE: Commerce Township has been captive to rate increases imposed by the Detroit Water Commission for years, many times unjustifiably. A water tower is, without question, necessary as a leverage tool to control rates to provide a reservoir of emergency water and to allow us to purchase water at times when it is most affordable.
Some communities have had the luxury of placing water towers prior to residential growth. Commerce has not, and I understand that no one wants it in his or her “back yard.” We don’t have many options because the tower must be built near the main water lateral and at a higher elevation. I support a thorough review of locations. We have areas that are wooded, or commercial, where construction will ease our water rates and not negatively impact the surroundings.
HAGGERTY ROAD: There has long been a stalemate between Commerce and West Bloomfield townships about Commerce’s desire to widen the two-lane stretch of road between Pontiac Trail and Richardson Road. Do you support widening Haggerty to allow for better traffic flow? Why or why not? If so, what can or should the township do to see the proposal to fruition?
PACE: It was hoped by many that the completion of Martin Parkway would erase the need to widen Haggerty Road between Pontiac Trail and Richardson Road. Although Martin has unquestionably been beneficial, I believe the issue of widening Haggerty still needs to be addressed. There is a major bottleneck at Richardson and Union Lake roads. I support widening Haggerty north to Richardson and creating a new intersection at Richardson and Union Lake Road to accommodate the traffic flow northward. I think it’s time for all parties, including the county and the estate, to participate in a renewed effort to study the possibilities of accomplishing this transportation solution. Commerce should take the lead.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues for the township, and how do you propose to address them?
PACE: In some respects, we’ve already touched on them through your list of questions. I believe the three most important issues facing Commerce Township are: No. 1, protecting strong family values through responsible and timely government decisions; No. 2, maintaining a proper balance of business growth and recreation in a township that needs a surge in activity to stimulate property values; and No. 3, ensuring public safety for citizens of all ages while simultaneously working within budgets that must reflect realistic conditions.
WHY YOU? Why specifically should voters choose you over your opponent?
PACE: If elected, I believe I would bring a unique blend of talent and experience to the Board of Trustees — unique because of my personal background; experienced because of my past terms on two township committees, Parks and Recreation and the Planning Commission. I am not a “politician,” but I am passionate about my community, having lived here 24 years, and I have contributed a considerable amount of time and effort toward making this a better place for my family and others. I am known as a creative thinker who can bring ideas to reality, such as conceiving and managing the Concerts in the Park Series. My ownership of several small businesses provides me with a realistic perspective on how to operate successfully within financial constraints as well as utilizing common-sense business solutions to solve problems. I am an independent thinker and problem solver, and would be honored to serve the citizens of Commerce Township as a trustee.