Over dinner this past week, my 8-year old daughter asked me “Why going to public school is free?”  I told my observant daughter that public school is not necessarily free and that we pay taxes to send children to school.  (In full disclosure, we send our children to a private school despite living in a great school district and close to a fantastic neighborhood school).   I told my daughter, that it also is the job of government, in part, to provide our children with a solid education.  I told her that taxes are used for a variety of other resources, such as police and fire, trash pick-up, snow removal on city streets, funding for the library and also to pay the lifeguards among other things. I know not all cities enjoy the same services, but I was trying to give her things that she could identify with. That same evening, I picked up a recent issue of Governing magazine only to find that the City of Dearborn, Mich., a community just west of Detroit, home to Ford Motor Company and a town recently made famous by TLC’s “All-American Muslim,” bought and built a building, appropriately called “The Dearborn,” in 1960 in Clearwater, Fla.  The building, located near Clearwater Beach, one of the best beaches in America, was an added perk for Dearborn retirees to use throughout the year.

To be able to use the city’s apartment, with its own pool, private fishing dock and marina, you have to be at least 62 .  However, due to the wait list you can apply as early as 50.

Since the turn of this century, it turns out that most Dearborn residents either did not know about this perk or just lost interest. Or perhaps they preferred South Beach and Miami, than Clearwater and Tampa.

In 2007, Dearborn residents voted to see the building and in 2010 the city put its’ Florida property up for sale. The sale is expected to be completed sometime this year. According to Governing, the Towers were listed for $7.5 million in 2010. The City says it found a buyer but will not disclose who the buyer is or the sale amount.

The City has said that it has not been a drain on the city’s finances and even account for it and its sale in their 2012 budget.  Well I am not sure what they paid for it in 1960, but it seems like a great city service whose time has passed…unless the City bought an airplane. Nonetheless, if any city is interested in America’s North Coast, I can find some great buildings in the Detroit area, maybe even Dearborn for you. So call me, okay!

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