LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Project Phoenix should not be a top priority

Letter to the Editor Monroe News---

While Project Phoenix is certainly ambitious and aspirational in scope and breadth, the cost, location and its high priority (at the expense of other needs) seems counter to the desires of most of Lenawee County’s residents.

The spending focus for most of us, whether it’s $20 million or $30 million or $80 million of government dollars, is the desire for upgraded county roads and infrastructure, fixing the fragile first responder network and helping with access to affordable clean water.

To spend over two times the total annual county budget on an “elite athlete” sports complex would seemingly be FAR down the priority list for most people here.

The county’s Human Services Building in Adrian has been a notable success — in large part because of its central location. To replicate that success with some of the contemplated uses for Project Phoenix would require utilizing available brownfield sites in Adrian, rather than one in the northeast corner of the county.

The consultancy engaged by the commissioners to examine the potential success of this project cited strong competition and only moderate demand for the facility. It does nothing to improve affordable athletic opportunities for most of the county youth with the focus instead on elite travel team sports. 

The (discussed) Lenawee County share of the project requires a $20 million dollar bond, with annual debt service around $930,000 per year against a projected best-case income for the project of $139,000 per year.

And the cited “200 jobs” were revealed to be primarily part-time, no-benefits and minimum wage opportunities.

Monroe County (Mich.) closed a smaller version of this vision in the face of a $250,000 annual subsidy. A ballot issue in November 2021 in neighboring Sylvania, Ohio, was rejected by 80%-plus of the voters there.

Now is the time to let your county commissioner know what you think. For me, I believe that this type of facility would be best left to private development.

Roger Johnson

Deerfield Township