Caro City Council voted to purchase the building housing the Tuscola Peer Center so it can be demolished to make way for more parking in the downtown area.
Caro City Council voted to buy the building at 146 W. Lincoln St. in Caro for $25,000. Monies will come from the Caro Downtown Development Authority fund.
The Nov. 21 discussion lasted about five minutes and consisted only of what the city might have to pay beyond the $25,000 per the agreement that calls for the city to cover closing costs and “as-is.”
Tuscola Peer Center is a program based in a two-story house offering free counseling, drop-in programs and temporary housing for those with mental-health issues.
Though the board has invited those affected by its decisions to attend meetings in the past, no one from Tuscola Peer Center or Tuscola Behavioral Health Services (TBHS) spoke on behalf of those who rely on the center for help with mental health issues prior to the council vote.
“The DDA intends to have the buildings demolished and turn the property into a parking lot,” wrote Karen Snider, acting city manager and clerk, Caro.
Tuscola Peer Center (formerly the Tuscola Place for Peace) has been operating at the site under a contract with TBHS.
Susan Holder, TBHS director of marketing and training, told The Advertiser she couldn’t comment on what might happen with the program because TBHS hadn’t been officially notified of the Caro City Council actions.
A woman who identified herself as the manager at Tuscola Peer Center last week said she didn’t know what was going to happen at the center. She referred calls to a Lansing-based organization called Project Doors that mentions
Tuscola Peer Center on its website. No one answered at the number nor returned calls.
Since the start of the Tuscola Peer Center fiscal year Oct. 1, 2015, nine individuals have received free lodging at the Peer Center for a total of about 270 days, former director Eric Pinoski told The Advertiser in July.
For the 2015 fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015, a total of 4,653 visitors came to the Tuscola Peer Center, Pinkoski said. He estimated about 90 separate individuals made the visits.
“At Christmas time, I get hugs and handshakes and I’m told that they love me,” Pinkoski said in July. “They thank me for the gifts. We try to give everybody a gift. A lot of the individuals that come here at Christmas time would not get a gift if it wasn’t for somebody here loving on them and caring for them.”
According to Tuscola Peer Center’s brochure, the center receives support from TBHS, Tuscola County United Way, Catholic Federal Credit Union and the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.
Any closure of the Tuscola Peer Center “would be a loss for the community,” Pinkoski said in July.
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at email@example.com