News Story

Lenawee County Board Head Connected To Sports Complex Approved For COVID Bucks

Board already directed $2.3 million to controversial scheme; he wants $10 million more and bought adjacent land

David Stimpson is a lawyer, business owner and chair of the nine-member Lenawee County Board of Commissioners. Stimpson is also one of eight commissioners who approved the $2.3 million purchase of a 50 acre-parcel in his district, the site of a proposed sports complex. The deal closed in October. Less than a month later, his company, BCKS Investments LLC, purchased land close to the proposed complex, dubbed “Project Phoenix.” The project also includes land that he said will provide a corridor to the facility.

A report in the Tecumseh Times Herald stated, “Stimpson said his new Evans Street parcels will help connect the downtown area to the Project Phoenix area to make a walkable business and commercial district along South Evans Street.” It also reported Oct. 21 that Stimpson had been working with another local developer for three years to pitch the project.

A board subcommittee, filled with members Stimpson recommended, was created to decide how to spend millions in federal COVID relief dollars. It recommended using $10 million of the money on Project Phoenix. 

According to the Adrian Daily Telegram, there is as much as $35 million available in local, state and federal money for the project.

The Lenawee Daily Telegram has reported that the city of Morenci opposes Project Phoenix, as do Deerfield and Ogden townships. Opponents of the project raise several objections and say it should be more centrally located to serve all county residents rather than be in the northeast corner. They believe the COVID relief money should be spent on roads, infrastructure and a tax cut for county residents and businesses. Another criticism is that similar facilities already exist in larger communities nearby, and the nearby city of Monroe closed a sports facility there for cost reasons.

Roger Johnson, a member of the Deerfield Township Planning Commission says, “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.”

Stimpson did not respond to an email when asked if he thought taxpayers should pay for a project that might benefit him.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.