Mount Clemens signs with non-profit group to temporarily run Cairns Center – Macomb Daily

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This version corrects a previous version which incorrectly stated that Commissioner Denise Mentzer voted against the rental agreement.

– With another potential candidate pulling out a chance to run the Cairns Community Center in Mount Clemens, the City Commission has voted to lease the center to a well-known non-profit group for the time being.

City officials said the director of the Mount Clemens Public Library, Brandon Bowman, informed them that the library would be able to take on responsibility for overseeing the Cairns centre.

“Until the new City Recreation Coordinator is ready to take over, we are proposing to lease the facility to TCB Youth
Mentoring,” City Manager Donald Johnson said at Tuesday’s meeting.

TCB Youth Mentoring and its Executive Director, Thomas Barnes, have been operating the center for a few months without a lease, providing recreational and family resource services in Cairns. The group has been a driving force in the development of a variety of programs to help local youth and are a backstage presence at most major Mount Clemens events such as parades and holiday programs.

Karl Haye and Thomas Barnes of the TCB Youth Mentoring Group pose outside the Cairns Community Centre. (DAVE ANGELL — FOR THE DAILY MACOMB)

The city commission approved a month-to-month lease on a 6-0 vote, with Pro Tem Mayor Ron Campbell excused from the meeting.

Barnes said he saw city groups cutting grass and trimming trees at the Cairns Center, located on Orchard near Clemens Streets on the outskirts of the city.

“It was great to see the strength and power of our municipal services and our community come together,” he said.

Commissioners Denise Mentzer and Barb Dempsey repeatedly asked the community center to provide a memorandum of understanding or contract that would name Mount Clemens as an additional insured.

Under the lease agreement, TCB will pay Mount Clemens $1 per month for use of the building, as well as a $2 million insurance policy through State Farm. It allows the city or TCB to terminate the agreement upon 90 days written notice.

In addition to the Mount Clemens Public Library, the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Michigan – which appeared to be in the running to run the center – scrapped the plan earlier this year.

After years without a municipal recreation department, Mount Clemens will establish a recreation coordinator this year to begin replenishing a limited program.

Johnson said more than 170 applicants applied for the job. Eleven were invited for an interview, eight scheduled Zoom interviews, but three of them showed up. Three candidates have been invited for more in-depth in-person interviews, the city manager said.

It appears that once the coordinator is hired, he will assume the management functions.

This week’s developments are the latest in a series of underletting, mismanagement and promises of better services.

Miles Kropp, Tiana Barnes and Trinity Peterson make popcorn for a movie.  Miles, son of Mayor Laura Kropp, hosts Movies with Miles, a free presentation in Cairns.  (DAVE ANGELL -- FOR THE MACOMB DAILY)
Miles Kropp, Tiana Barnes and Trinity Peterson make popcorn for a movie. Miles, son of Mayor Laura Kropp, hosts Movies with Miles, a free presentation in Cairns. (DAVE ANGELL — FOR THE DAILY MACOMB)

The Cairns Community Center was built by Mount Clemens Community Schools with grants from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It was opened in 2008.

The 10,000 square foot facility has space for education, sports and other forms of recreation. An indoor basketball gymnasium is available with a portable stage for performances and community meetings, and a computer lab.

But HUD funds were for construction only and did not cover operating expenses, so it had to close.

Over the years, the center has been sublet to various entities.

In 2012, former NBA player Jermaine Jackson took it over and ran it as a community center. The center offered a variety of educational classes, activities and mentorship programs for residents 18 and under, as well as programs for seniors and a food program for families.

But a few years later, Jackson got into an argument with Mount Clemens and other officials, and left. The center ceased operations in 2020.

Earlier this year, the city last week secured transfer of ownership documents to terminate its 99-year lease for the building with Mount Clemens School officials. The Board of Education has approved a quitclaim deed to allow the city to acquire the building and property by August 1.

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