Commissioner says it’s not his fault park grant disappeared

By Charles Sercombe

There’s been plenty of talk since last week’s story on a park grant that disappeared.

Unfortunately, the more that people talked, the less clear the issue became.

Wayne County Commissioner Moe Blackwell said last week’s story was not correct in stating he offered a $75,000 park improvement grant when actually the money was not really there.

Blackwell — who announced the park grant at a City Council meeting just weeks before election day — said the money was indeed there but it was later withdrawn by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

“It’s not that Moe Blackwell didn’t do his job,” said Blackwell, speaking in the third person. “It’s about Bob Ficano playing politics.”

We reported that the director of the county parks department, Beverly Watts, said that’s not the case and that the money was never budgeted at the time Blackwell came to the city council.

Through a county spokesman, Watts is now saying that Blackwell mistakenly thought a 2007 parks grant offered to the city was still available. Watts says that grant was given to another community when Hamtramck failed to follow through.

Blackwell said that’s not true, either. He said he was told by Watts before he approached the council that the money was there.

“I’m not the one who was misinformed. She is the one who is misinformed,” Blackwell said. “I didn’t sit at home and concoct this.”

Bottom line: there is no grant money for Hamtramck.

Blackwell was defeated in the August Primary Election in his bid to win re-election. State Sen. Martha Scott, who is being termed out, will be the new county commissioner for Hamtramck. She is running unopposed in Tuesday’s election.

Despite the twists and turns of the issue – and the changing stories — the city has a plan to construct a basketball court in Veterans Park filed with the county. There is a chance the city could receive a grant for the project next year, said Watts.

Still, the issue reeked of inter-county political warfare and has several people here and in the county pointing fingers.

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