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Town House advocates question Tyrone Township board’s commitment to project

By Leah Craig

The Tyrone Township Board convened for the first time in nine weeks after a series of cancellations, reportedly due to a lack of ‘new business on the agenda’.

Despite this, a key item was struck from the ‘new business’ portion of the agenda: The Board had initially listed an ‘agreement with the Historical Society for moving costs of old town hall’ as a new agenda item. Prior to the meeting, it was announced that the topic would not be discussed as planned.

Yet the Town House project– which seeks to move and preserve the Michigan Historic Site– is hardly a new topic.

Historic Town House

The Town Hall Building, built in 1887, served as a center for elections, meetings, and gatherings. The building provided a foundation upon which a community was built, and is one of Tyrone Township’s few historical sites. But since the land has now been purchased, the future of this landmark has been jeopardized. Members of the Tyrone Township Historical Society detailed how, over the past fourteen months, they have vocally advocated for the building’s preservation.

The Board, however, has not been cooperative to the Historical Society’s efforts. The topic was first brought to the table in May of 2021, but was denied a place on the agenda.

Despite the Board’s continual dismissal, the Historical Society has worked diligently to ensure the Town House is preserved and protected. Between May and July of 2021, over 400 signatures were collected on behalf of the proposal.  Over $35,000 has been raised in the past eight months to fund the project.

“Despite the hurdles, we have remained steadfast and focused on getting the job done,”  said Linda McFarland, President of the Tyrone Township Historical Society.  “The Historical Society has taken great strides to fundraise, submit grants, consult with an architect, draft a thorough project plan, determine a budget based on hard quotes from reputable contractors, draft site plans, explore permitting, connect with the community, and more. We are committed to this project, to preservation of local history, and to the community.”

Though numerous promises have been made– including a unanimously passed resolution stating that the township would manage and oversee these efforts – the Board has yet to follow through. Even more concerning to society members, they’ve yet to provide any insight as to why.

“[This]  gives us great pause as to whether Township management and oversight, in this case, is intended to help or hinder the project’s success,” Tom Runyan, the historical society’s treasurer, stated. “We’d like to know why, despite repeated attempts, meetings, requests, and a resolution, we do not have Township participation.”

With a mere nine months until the project deadline in March 2023,  the window of opportunity is shrinking– especially since Michigan winter is a less than ideal time to undertake such a project.

The Tyrone Township Board is set to meet again on August 16th.

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