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“It is distressing to see discord in our city over poor decisions made by the Mayor and City Council”

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Dr. Susan Bowyer, Rochester Hills resident, speaks out on the residents being denied the right to vote on the City park oil lease.  Dr. Bowyer is a subdivision president, scientist, professor, and board member of the citizen group, S.P.A.C.E, that fought to protect the city parks from “Mayor Barnett and City Council” who “could not be trusted to make good decisions for our City.”

Dear Editor:
It is distressing to see discord in our city over poor decisions made by the Mayor and City Council in approving an oil lease for our public parks in and around our subdivisions and schools. Our city was just ranked as the 9th best place to live in 2014 by Money Magazine. Clearly, they have not heard about the proposed oil and gas drilling of our City parks.
In 2011, many Rochester Hills residents realized Mayor Barnett and City Council, could not be trusted to make good decisions for our City.  Those residents, along with myself, Gary Uhl, Steve McGarry, Tom Ryan, many other HOA presidents as well as then Councilman Ravi Yalamanchi, formed Park SPACE 2011.  Our website remains and reminds us of what we the People of Rochester Hills are capable of doing to protect and preserve our parks and residential areas.
We walked the streets acquiring over 3000 signatures enabling placement of a charter amendment on the ballot to protect our vote in parks proposals. It won by a landslide with a resounding 88% of the vote. The residents of Rochester Hills spoke LOUD and CLEAR.  Our intent in writing the amendment was also clear – but never imagined having to explicitly include the air above and the ground below in the language; never imagining that the lack of such could be used to twist our intentions and take away our say, our vote.   
We initiated and passed this legislation to preserve our voice in decisions about potentially dangerous projects or those that might change the character of our residential areas. With our charter amendment in place, we had every expectation that such projects could be STOPPED by a vote of the people. It is upsetting to think that our city government can still DESTROY a park, by selling or leasing the ground under it without the residents of Rochester Hills getting to vote on it as the Parks and Open Spaces amendment of 2011 provided for.
Money Magazine described our community image as “bucolic” based on our trees, parks and open green spaces. Our city is also known for its safety, good schools and rapidly appreciating home values. Is there really any doubt that these qualities will be depreciated if oil rigs, gas smells, and sounds of pumps, or even the impression that we invite oil and gas drilling into our bedroom community? We passed our charter amendment to prevent such an outcome. We are owed the vote we fought for.
Dr. Susan Bowyer,
S.P.A.C.E. Board member
President of Cumberland Hills Subdivision,
Senior Scientist,  Henry Ford Hospital,
Professor Physics,  Oakland University
Professor of Neurology,  Wayne State University

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Learn about the lawsuit brought by residents of Rochester Hills to preserve the residents’ right to vote.

Watch videos of other residents speaking out.

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