BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Despite public outcry to save the historic Bailey house, bad timing is still its greatest adversary.
“We had the meeting on Tuesday (Aug. 29) between the schools, the township and the county, where the school expressed their interest,” said builder Sam Moraco. “What came out of the meeting was that if the county was to allow a resident or the school district to take over the house where it sits, they wouldn’t be able to apply for federal grants in the spring because it would be in the process of a land transaction.”
Moraco explained the county’s main concern is the process will go through April, which postpones them from applying for federal grant money for parks activities for another year. He said the easiest way for the county to get rid of the property, aside from demolition, is to move it or have someone else move the house.
Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle and Clarkston Junior High Construction Tech Teacher Jeff Peariso were also at the meeting.
“Everyone in the room agreed vocational education, skilled trades training for high school kids is critical, there’s just a lot of nuisances with that Bailey house and the property on which it sits,” Kittle said. “The opportunity cost to county parks is estimated into the hundreds of thousands of dollars by being out of the grant market for that period of time.”
All three talked about moving the house to a property across the street from its current location. Moraco said the property has eight acres and the county will see if the owners are interested in selling some of it to the school district, but he added it will cost the school an additional $100,000 to $150,000 to relocate the Bailey house.
“After the school district bought the property, then the school district would have to pay to have the house moved, a new basement or foundation put in, new well, new septic, new utilities and once you add all those together, that’s what usually deters from the restoration,” Moraco said.
However, Peariso is hoping they can work out an agreement with the county for a land swap to give the school district the property, otherwise they may not have the funds to relocate it. He said the county thinks they can’t get the paperwork for the land swap through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in time for their April grant deadline.
“(The county has) a meeting on the sixth, we’re hoping to go to that meeting and get a little bit clearer idea and by then hopefully Representative (Jim) Tedder has some news for us from the DNR to see what they have to say about it,” Peariso said.
Representative Jim Tedder was also at the Bailey house meeting last week. Peariso said he’s going to talk with the DNR about speeding up paperwork for the land swap transaction.
“Our goal is to try to get things done in a timely manner, so we can turn around and they can file for grants and we can restore the house,” Peariso said. “They don’t want to sit on that house for any length of time and do anything with it because that costs them money to have it sitting there.”
Kittle said, for now, discussions are continuing and the demolition is on hold, but either way he knows it’s going to cost a lot of money to bring the Bailey house back to life.
For more information, call Oakland County Parks at 248-858-0906, and Independence Township at 248-625-5111.