OSCODA – Oscoda officials are strongly encouraging the public to attend a township board work session this Thursday, Nov. 7, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The audience can expect to hear accurate and up-to-date information regarding the preliminary concept of a consolidated municipal services center.

The session will be held in the Warrior Pavilion of Ken Ratliff Memorial Park, at 6288 F-41, and will feature a presentation by Wigen Tincknell Associates (WTA Architects) and ROWE Professional Services Company.

A township flyer advising of the event reads that public safety is important for the community. Therefore, the gathering is taking place so that attendees can better understand the benefits for the police and fire departments, along with all community stakeholders.

Scheduling of the work session was approved by the township board of trustees at their most recent meeting on Oct. 28.

It was during this meeting when Superintendent Dave Schaeffer said the upcoming work session will feature a lot of follow-up from the previous session on this topic, which was held Aug. 28.

He added that the ROWE and WTA Architects presentation will explain what these companies have been doing since the last meeting, to be able to address some of the concerns that were brought up at the session in August.

Trustee Timothy Cummings asked if the idea is for attendees to discuss locations during the upcoming work session.

“There will be,” Schaeffer replied. “It will be an update based on the operational capacity – what that would look like; how that fits onto the sites.” 

Schaeffer said the township heard the public, as far as their varying takes on the different sites which have been discussed, and what those options mean.

As reported, the Aug. 28 work session included Supervisor Aaron Weed showing the crowd photos and other details for more than 30 properties in the township which could be considered for such a project. As he moved through a slide show summarizing all of the properties, there were pros and cons that were discussed for each.

Drawing the most feedback from the community – from those both for and against the notion – have been the talks of potentially building a consolidated municipal services center on Furtaw Field. However, officials have stressed that no formal decisions have been made regarding a location, nor has anything been finalized for other aspects of the possible project.

Board members, during public meetings and work sessions, have only mulled the options for combining the town hall offices, police station, fire hall, library, community center and senior center into one central location. The possible inclusion of an on-site training area for police and fire department personnel has also been considered.

Township officials and representatives of each of the entities mentioned above shared at a previous work session why they feel a new municipal services center is needed. This included mention of the current township building not having adequate space for the training/meetings conducted by firefighters and police officers, as well as the structure being in need of frequent, costly repairs.

As Schaeffer has noted, this has led to the question of whether it will be cheaper to continue making such upgrades, or if construction of an entirely new facility would be more cost-effective.