Friday, February 5, 2010

Powers Confirms Move

Here's a letter sent out from Powers High School Principal Tom Furnas on February 5th about relocation:
Dear Powers Parents and Friends;

We are acutely aware that there are rumors in the community surrounding the potential relocation of our school and that there is a fair amount of angst in the parent community about lack of communication from us. What we have communicated formerly remains true: we promised that we would give all effort to finding a feasible project and that we would then do our level best to bring that project to fruition.

Sometimes in the past we have allowed ourselves to get carried away in possibilities and hopes and we want this time to be different. At this point I can tell you that Bishop Boyea has signed a purchase agreement for the GM-SPO facility located in Grand Blanc Township off of I-475. The Township amended its zoning ordinances to allow for a high school to operate at that site with a special use permit. Their officials have also expressed a strong desire to work with us.

With this concrete reality in front of us and a short time frame within which to work, the next task is to approach people in the community who have the potential to provide lead cash gifts (as well as pledges) to ensure that we can make it all come together. To that end, a number of receptions are being hosted throughout the community to which we are inviting major donors who can provide a substantial portion of the funds necessary to make the move possible. We have a March 1 deadline to obtain significant support to ensure our success. After this March 1 deadline, we will broaden and continue our capital campaign. We will need the support of our entire community to get to the finish line and look forward to working with you in the near future. If you know of people that should be included in this first, critical phase or would like to discuss your own gift possibilities, please contact either Bill Milne or me.

Please understand that the order in which we are soliciting gifts is recommended protocol. It is not our intention to either exclude or to offend anyone. We will need every individual gift of time, treasure, and talent. It is together that we will achieve our success.

With the hope of opening a new facility in January of 2011, we will need the support of everyone. Please continue to pray that God may guide us in His will and bless us in our efforts.


Tom Furnas


  1. Ahh, notice how willing Grand Blanc officials are to get a new high school and add about 100 jobs. What was the Flint school board thinking when they snubbed Powers offer to buy Flint Central? And does the city of Flint have any influence whatsoever over the school board? The Rutherford parking deck and this lost opportunity show that after all these years, Flint officials can still haven't learned much about how to improve the city.

    Flint's been dealt some horrible economic cards, but the city's leadership has consistently made things worse.

  2. I think it's quite clear that the FBOE wanted to avoid having an effective high school within easy access of their core customer base.

    The FBOE would look bad if there was a huge waiting list for admission to Powers on the part of non-Catholic Flint families who want their kids to get a rigorous, traditional-values-based academic and social education, and perceive the Flint school system...notwithstanding the many good educators in its be broken.

  3. A Laura Angus piece on MLive included the currently envisioned architectural site plan for the Powers conversion.

    Large areas of the site will be used for storm-runoff retention areas, per current codes to maintain local water tables and avoid the need to resize storm drains; these probably are all as are in place right now for SPO.

    I don't see an area for sports fields, though. Will Powers have sports teams and programs, and if so, where will they practice and play?

  4. There's probably too much existing parking for a high school, especially one without a real stadium. It would probably make sense to remove at least half or more of the asphalt to reclaim lawn areeas for sports fields -- there's plenty of room it appears -- but it won't be cheap. There also is a football field, track, and a set of baseball diamonds just to the southeast of the site. Maybe a shared arrangement could be negotiated there.

  5. FBOE is a joke. I agree with JWilly that they didn't want the competition. I also believe they hope to tear Central down some day and build a new school. (Many in Flint have no interest in historic preservation.) No idea where they'll get the money to do this. Powers would have stepped in, quickly spruced up Central, and showed the building didn't actually need the $36 million in repairs the FBOE has been claiming, and embarrassed the FBOE.

  6. Powers just lost whatever street cred they had. Once you remove the "Flint" from their name, they won't have much of a psychological advantage anymore. Something about Grand Blanc Powers Catholic doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents.

  7. But their ski and tennis team will have an advantage, right?

  8. No offense Sable, but Powers was never called Flint Powers by anyone I knew... and considering the cost in $$$ it took to go there, it never had any street cred in my book either.

    Although I suppose getting beat up at a 7-11 is a sort of a character builder...

  9. The Bishop has signed a Purchase Agreement? That means Powers (or the Lansing Diocese) has offered to purchase the SPO Site in Grand Blanc. That is alot different than GM accepting the offer!!! They are likely worlds apart? Powers doesn't have enough money to buy that building. They will need close to $25M or more! If they are hoping GM will donate it to them, like GM did in Detroit with the Argonaut Building, they are sadly mistaken. Major corporations donate property when they want to offset profits that are taxable. Anyone who has been walking and talking for the last couple years knows that GM is not making money! In fact, they are burning it... and it is ours!!! Any plan to sell the SPO building will have to be approved by the Treasury Dept. Thats right, Uncle Sam owns that asset. Does anyone really think that Uncle Sam is going to give that asset to Powers???!! If you do, you are dreaming!

  10. Anonymous, I'm not disagreeing, but if Treasury plans to hold out for $25 million, that building will sit empty for a long, long time. When the Silverdome is going for $500,000 they are dreaming if they think someone will pay that much for a huge building in one of the most economically depressed areas in the county.

    At the same time, the mildly desperate fundraising plea from the Powers principal doesn't exactly inspired confidence that the school has a ton of cash on hand to pull a deal.

    I know there are some insiders out there who have commented before. Any thoughts?

  11. Ok, as an SPO employee, as well as a Power's parent, I can give you my 2 cents worth. The SPO building would make an awesome school. I am really excited for them, and hope they get an increase in enrollment. The building went for way less than anyone thinks, it's a GM asset that needs to be liquidated. GLTC went for more, since they split it up to several buyers. The SPO move has been put on hold and the relocation plans to be announced later this week. So it's not set in stone that SPO is going away-yet. The plans are to build a sports area over one set of the parking lots, plus there is land for sale next to the building. The football field is remaining at Holy Redemeer- they said they don't have the money for a new one- plus it's only an exit away! As I have told you earlier, it will be nice for the kids not to have to duck when they hear bullets, but they are going to miss they day's of getting sent home early because Northwestern is in a lock down. Tropical Smoothie down the street will be cha-chinging from the Power's new location. There has also been rumors...let me stress rumors that Genesys is planning on leasing a section from Powers. Not quite sure on those logistics. Quite honestly, SPO could lease one wing from them for the few people that still occupy the building. It was quite funny before the announcement was made to see priests in our building on several occasions. Made it a bit obvious what was going on. Anyway- like everyone else, I will sit back and wait to see what happens to me and to my kids wishing it works out for everyone.

  12. I'm not an "insider", but let's assume that Uncle Sam does in fact have a substantial degree of control over the situation.

    In practice, that means a middle manager in the Executive branch. He or she wants to get proper value, but he or she also is very aware that they work in a politico-governmental context. Washington runs on deals and arrangements; the Executive branch is constantly trading favors with Congress to make things happen. They particularly favor districts with Democratic representation and/or state leadership. I think it's fair to say that the Powers community has a *lot* of friends, and has many connections among the political class. Fifth District Representative Dale Kildee is extremely supportive of education, is a senior member of education committees, happens to be Roman Catholic, and has 34 years of seniority.

    Probably the Powers community has supporters within GM's leadership as well. GM, too, is supportive of education. Selling a building to a highly effective educational system, rather than knocking it down, would be a plus.

    GM actively wants to *not* be responsible for empty buildings at this point.

    As noted, no one's going to come along with a better offer for the building. Selling it at a low price can't be shown to have sacrificed a realistic prospect of a greater gain. And, GM can book the losses they take now, and use them against profits when they make some.

    Off the top of my head I can't think of any other project in Genesee County that would be more likely to be greenlighted by Washington in the present circumstances.

  13. It was just announced at Power's and at SPO that SPO will not be relocating so the deal is off. Sad day for Powers. When Tom made the announcement at school today, I was told he sounded very sad. GM is committing to work with Powers on a solution.


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