Company to run center, rink

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – An agreement has been reached for an outside company to run the city’s community center.

At their Oct. 23 meeting, city councilors unanimously voted to sign a contract with Temple Entertainment Corp. to run the community center, while the city retains ownership.

A similar deal was reached earlier this year with nonprofit The Senior Alliance to run the center at no cost to the city but the Wayne-based group pulled out of the deal, leaving the city with no budget to run the center.

The deal, which took effect that day, involves the company taking over the center’s annual marketing and capital improvement plans and being responsible for its budgets, improvements and maintenance of the building including putting down ice in the rink. The building will remain under the city’s ownership with Temple getting revenue from the programs.

The five-year renewable management agreement is not likely to be affected by the recent appointment of an emergency financial manager by the state, as a $25,000 “breakup fee” for the city in the contract was applicable only if an EFM voided the contract. Michigan Public Act 72, under which Emergency Financial Manager Joyce Parker was appointed, does not allow EFMs to break contracts.

Incorporated in Michigan in the last year, the company has raised concerns among some residents, which Councilman Dennis Hayes addressed at the meeting.

He noted the extensive experience of the company’s members, including experience managing the Masonic Temple in Detroit, and pointed out differences between the deal and a failed one with Unity Studios that left the city-owned 104-acre studio property with a $2 million annual subsidy from the general fund. Unlike the Unity deal, Hayes said, the Temple deal requires no up-front payment from the city.

“There are those who see black helicopters and (Unity founder) Jimmy Liftons behind every bush,” Hayes said. “We worry about those people and we want to assure them there’s no real risk to us.”

In addition to preserving the ice rink, used by the high school hockey team and previously home to the Allen Park Hockey Association, the group seeks to use the center as an entertainment venue for concerts and family events.