Open Letter to the Troy Michigan City Council
To the Members of the Troy City Council:
As religious leaders who are privileged to serve congregations that have a deep and abiding concern for the community’s welfare, and who enter conversations concerning matters of state with great caution, we believe that we must raise our voices in response to the proposed cuts in city services. We raise our voices at this time, because we believe in the common good of all who live and work in this city that we call home. We recognize the seriousness of the projected revenue shortfalls, and recognize the Council’s duty to address them in wise fashion. As clergy we understand this issue all too well, for our own congregations have to deal with the economy’s effect on our communities of faith.
Nonetheless, we believe that the proposed cuts in services and personnel are short sighted and detrimental to the health of this community. This is a community that prides itself on being one of the safest and most diverse communities in the state. It is noted for its schools and its services. The Troy library is a bustling center of activity. Its parks are full of activities for people of all ages, but especially for its children and youth. The Community Center, Nature Center, and Museum offer other important opportunities to gather as community and to explore the history and environment of the area. As for the Community Affairs office, which has already been stripped of personnel, it is a key point of communication between the city and its constituents.
When we look at the city of Troy, we see a rather young community, one without a traditional downtown. And thus, the very sites being considered for closure are the very places that bind the community together. It is the very sites that face closure that provide the space for us to come together as a community in all of our diversity. Without these common settings this city becomes less attractive to business and to families seeking a place to live. Home values will decrease, and the possibility of crime will increase, especially among the young who will no longer have the kinds of programs that keep body and mind busy and growing.
Indeed, we are concerned that the contemplated cuts will strike deep into the ethos of this community. While some of these services could be privatized or picked up by other entities, once they are gone they will be lost. Once gone, the community will lose the kind of common ownership that civically provided services offer. We come back to the fact that we are a diverse community and it is the city government that provides the glue that holds us together. We pray that this is not lost.
There are, of course, alternatives, but these will require political will. It is often impolitic to broach the issue of increased taxes and fees, especially during economic downturns. But we believe that if the issues before us are clearly explained, and that the people of this city were to understand that the long term value of their community is at stake, then they will be willing to take the step of providing support.
Therefore, we wish to encourage the City Council to do all due diligence, but then take the necessary steps to bring the community together to maintain and develop the kinds of programs, services, and opportunities that make for a safe and healthy community. As religious leaders we pledge ourselves to do what we can to further this goal.
Rev. Robert Cornwall
Central Woodward Christian Church
Rev. Hal Weemhoff
First United Methodist Church
Rev. Lynda Liles
Fellowship United Methodist Church
Rev. Jack L. Mannschreck
Big Beaver United Methodist Church
Rev. Judy McMillan
First Presbyterian Church
Rev. Johnny LilesFellowship United Methodist Church
Pastor Talitha Pennington
Community of Christ, Troy Oaks
Rev. Charlotte Sommers
Northminster Presbyterian Church