Bailey house still at risk, preservationists say

An historic treasure is once again in jeopardy and Clarkston School’s Construction Technology program could lose this valuable opportunity and resource for learning. For the second time this year, Oakland County Parks Board Chairman Gerald Fisher has made motion on changes to our previously agreed upon deal to transfer the Bailey house to the Preservation Clarkston nonprofit group. Changes that would kill the project.
Preservation Clarkston is in the process of acquiring 3+ acres of land to trade to the Oakland County Parks for the Bailey house on a half acre of land. This would give Preservation Clarkston and the students the opportunity to save the home and return it to a single family dwelling, which in turn will generate income for the township. We have put over three years into this project, and since the restoration revolves around the students being able to complete a full ground up restoration on a historical home, as part of the Schools Construction Tech program, the plan has always been to have possession by the start of the next school year.
Now that all the work has been put in, the approvals from the DNR, the previous Oakland County Parks board commitment to approving the project, and the land deal has been negotiated, there seems to be a concern that Preservation Clarkston and the Clarkston’s Construction Tech program would not live up to our commitment. This apparently provoked suggestions from Mr. Fisher. Unfortunately any type of restrictions placed on the property would make it impossible for our group to get the funding to move forward.
The first suggestion made by Mr. Fisher in a meeting earlier this year was to put a deed restriction on the house. In this scenario, Oakland County Parks could regulate the exterior condition of the home and property forever. After a lengthy debate we were successful in convincing the remaining board this wasn’t necessary. The Independence Township ordinances already provide adequate protection to the condition of the house and property in the future. Fortunately, we were successful in convincing the county to stick to the original agreement.
Then this month, Mr. Fisher introduced yet another proposal to hold the deed in escrow until the house exterior was completed to their satisfaction. Consequently, this has forced our lender to inform us that they would not be able to help with purchasing the land being swapped if these restrictions apply.
The ironic part of the latest proposed change is Mr. Fisher fails to realize the deteriorated condition of the home’s exterior is caused by the neglect and poor maintenance on part of the Oakland County Parks over last eight years they have owned it.
Preservation Clarkston and the students have already put a new roof on the house and improved the appearance with private money and in good faith, since the Oakland County Parks still owns the home.
When local government creates these obstacles, it’s no secret why people are hesitant to take time away from their families to help with these types of community projects. The Bailey House is an awesome opportunity to get the community involved and to teach our students an invaluable set of skills and tie them back into our community. It would be a shame to lose out on this opportunity.
We would ask the Oakland County Parks Board to have faith in the people they represent.
Sam Moraco is a founding member of Preservation Clarkston