Peter Meloche, one of four candidates vying for three open seats on the Dexter City Council, is running in order to be a voice for the old village values that some fear might be lost as more and more time passes with Dexter being a city.
“I didn’t want to be a city, but that’s what was decided and I figured that instead of complaining about it I’d get involved and voice what I felt was best for the city,” said Meloche, who has lived in Dexter since the seventh grade and grew up on Grand Street in the “old” part of Dexter from there, after spending the beginning of his life with his family in Loch Alpine.
Being a Dexter boomerang resident who thought that he needed to escape Dexter for the wide open world when he was young, he gained a new appreciation for his hometown after serving in the U.S. Navy from 1989 to 1993 in the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Independence.
“You don’t realize how great a place Dexter is when you’re young — you say, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to get out of here,” — and you get out and you have to come back.”
Meloche says he wants to make sure that Dexter doesn’t get too far away from the qualities that drew him back.
“I just want to make sure that we remember where we came from and why people move here to keep it that small quaint feel of a community, and now that we’re a city I fear that we might try to get bigger too quick,” he explained. “That’s my biggest fear, that’s why I’m running. When I got my signatures that was the one question I was asked again and again: ‘I grew up here and I want my kids to grow up here and have the same feel that I did,’ I told people.”
Meloche recalled hearing people in the band program at Dexter High School who had transplanted their families from elsewhere to Dexter criticize aspects of how things are done in Dexter, which is always something that comes to mind when he thinks about the community growing in terms of residential development and population.
“I remember at my daughter’s band meeting in fifth grade I kept hearing people say, ‘When we were in West Bloomfield, we did it this way,’ or ‘When we were in Farmington Hills this is how we did things,’ and I would just be like wait a minute … you moved here for a reason.
“If you liked it so much there, why are you trying to make this into that?”
Meloche added that he doesn’t think that people actively engage in this sort of thinking or set out to change Dexter with intent, but rather it’s a natural human tendency to — despite moving to a new place for its qualities — still desiring a certain amount of familiarity for comfort’s sake.
His top priority as a council member would be to ensure that this sort of subliminal thinking and the glacial shift away from the core values of the Dexter community that it could instigate are mitigated in his deliberations and decisions as a member of council.
“Dexter has always been a small town, rural farming style community,” he explained. “In the 80’s it was more farming than it is now, but still you had that feel. Small town living is what people look for. And Dexter is really that because of our geography and the logistics of the town.
“We can keep it that way if we choose to, because we don’t have M-52 coming straight down Main Street, we aren’t going to have to turn into strip mall after strip mall between I-94 and downtown.”
While being circumspect on matters of growth and development, Meloche has some issues that he believes Dexter hasn’t made enough progress on, such as finally adopting a proposal for a new fire hall for the Dexter Area Fire Department.
Dexter’s council, both as a city and a village, has been talking about either revamping the existing facility at 8140 Main Street or building a new one in various places, with a location on Dan Hoey Road being the more prominent option for a brand new fire facility on the table. The existing station would either be built out to accommodate city offices and/or a meeting space for council alongside the fire fighters or the facility would entirely become a Dexter municipal complex, depending on which of the various options that have been on the table for discussion and consideration over the years.
“I think the fire hall is something where they’ve looked at locations, they’ve looked at response times, they’ve looked at two or three scenarios … it’s time to pull the trigger,” Meloche said. “I know that the mayor says we’ve got to make a decision on this at some point. I want to be the guy who says let’s put this where it needs to be and get it done. We have the information. Let’s use it and make a decision.”
Currently the DAFD has trouble with vehicle logistics at 8140, requiring the shuffle of trucks or that they be worked on in the parking lot, which Meloche is aware of.
“We’ve grown enough in terms of trucks where they need more space. I think it’s necessary and I think they’ve done enough research where they have good viable options,” he said.
Meloche also would like to focus on friendly relationships with surrounding townships now that cityhood has removed Dexter residents ability to affect township elections under the former village government framework.
He believes that the case can be made to township officials, if it need be, that a vibrant quaint Dexter nearby is worth more than some of the sorts of commercial and industrial development that opponents to cityhood feared when considering the value of their dual voting status in township politics.
“There’s a feeling out there that we’re in danger of losing our nice small Dexter, and I want to be a voice for those people and work to not let it just go away.”