By Don Rush
There are no dues or fees. No pledges of fealty or oaths of allegiance. No websites or office buildings to call home, but folks who are making up a relatively new group in town all have one thing in common; they want to make sure this community’s character remains.
“We don’t want to be Troy,” said Sam Moraco, long-time Independence Township resident, builder and Chairman of group Preservation Clarkston. “We have about 170 people who believe in what we’re doing and are on our email list.”
The group was a juggernaut of grassroots community activism last year when they were able to thwart the wheels of progress and stop Oakland County Parks and Recreation from destroying the historic Bailey Home, located on park property on Sashabaw Road. The home was slated for razing when a small group of people like Moraco and Clarkston Construction Tech teacher Jeff Peariso read about it in The Clarkston News.
A full-court phone and email blitz ensued and Preservation Clarkston was able to storm both Independence Township and Oakland County meetings and halt the demolition.
Since, the group has worked with the county to purchase the property and, with the help of Clarkston Construction Tech students, start to rehab the structure. The Bailey family helped settle Independence Township, and the house on Sashabaw Road is on the original U.S. Government land grant of 1856. According to a 1998 Independence Township inventory report, “This house is significant because of its high degree of exterior architectural integrity. It is a good example of the T-plan farmhouse style built within the township in the late 1800s.”
Moraco, who has served on the township’s planning commission, hopes the group will be able to target and preserve historically significant structures throughout the rural community — as historic structures add value to the community.
According to their Facebook page, “Preservation Clarkston’s goals follow very close to the Independence Township Master Plan.”
Their goal is “to recognize and promote the importance of the historic assets and rural character of the community, and foster preservation initiatives. They not only want to preserve historic structures, they want to find incentives to ensure future preservation of historic homes, out-buildings, and barns.
Partnering with Clarkston schools has also brought another benefit to the community. Clarkston Construction Tech students are getting real-life, out of the class and in the field experiences.
“The kids are excited and it has been great to see them working on the Bailey House. When they get older and are driving around they can point and say to their kids, ‘You know, I helped save that home.’ That’s kind of cool.”
Preservation Clarkston is in the process of getting recognized by the United States government as a 501-c3 organization. They are recognized by Michigan to operate the non-profit group, however will not be able to accept donations, until officially recognized by the federal government.
Moraco also hopes the group can help keep local and county government accountable to the community; to keep board actions transparent and open to the public.
Preservation Clarkston is in search of contractors and roofers to help button up the home’s roof this winter.
“The kids want to get up there and do it, but we need some more professional help. Of course they will be recognized in the community,” Moraco said.
The group is always looking for volunteers, not only those with construction skills. They need people with all sorts of skills, from office, to professional and tech skills and even people who just have “time” to give. Time to attend board meetings, too.
Except during the holidays, Preservation Clarkston meets on the third Thursday of the month at Buckshots restaurant, starting at 6:30 p.m. Board members are, Moraco, Chairman; Secretary, Jennie DeNio; Treasurer, Maggie Moraco; and directors, Peariso, Bob Mancino, Bill Kunse and Steve Wyckoff.
For more information go to their Facebook page or to sign up for their email list, send notice to PreservationClarkston@gmail.com.