By Gari Voss
The Allegan City Council received good news but continued to wrestle with the on-going concerns regarding the Historic District Commission and County offices moving.
On the positive side, Mayor Teresa Galloway took time to proclaim May 7-13, 2023 as Drinking Water Week as a reminder that everyone needs to be good stewards to improve the quality of drinking water.
The Public Hearing and 2nd Reading were completed for Ordinance 509 to amend Article XV to meet the requirements of MI Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) after a Flood Insurance Study (FIS) was completed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The ordinance 509, Article XV passed and final copies are available in the City Manager’s office.
Mike Kiella took time to inform the Council of the work done during water line replacement at his home. Director of Public Works Doug Kadzban and his entire team were courteous and extremely respectful as they worked outside and inside Kiella’s home. “I just want the Council to know that you have the right leader and workers in the proper places. They never raised their voices or used profanity. Doug took time to introduce the team to new equipment as they quickly and efficiently completed their work.”
Downtown Development Authority
The Downtown Development Authority met on April 12, 2023. Mayor Teresa Galloway reported that they had a very productive meeting. Important business included an update on the Downtown Improvement Project. In addition, member Phil Siegler requested that the City explore temporary parking signs on the backside of Locust Street businesses to assist visitors.
Shoppers need to be introduced to the Downtown Shopping Passport Program. The printed passports have arrived and Downtown Manager Parker Johnson is distributing them to businesses. By the end of April, shoppers can begin gathering stamps in their passports that will qualify the shopper for a $10 certificate. The Passports were not available for April Showers, but businesses were pleased even though attendance was a bit lower than last year.
On the good news side, A-Tech Computer Solutions received a $25,000 MI Economic Development Corporation Match on Main funds.
A request will go to the City Council to reappoint Positively Allegan board members Megan Bouwman to a one-year term, Marjori Cantwell to a two-year term, and Elvin Quiñones-Walker to a three-year term.
Public Spaces Commission
The Public Spaces Commission met on April 12, 2023 and several important pieces of information were shared. There was a discussion regarding updating the gazebo in Mahan Park. by Bridget Waanders and Becky Weaver.
Steve Czadzeck of Abonmarche shared the proposed improvements to be made to Rossman Park as part of the DNR Spark Grant. The group wanted to be sure that tree removal is to be minimal. Another Marmo Maple Tree will be planted on the Riverfront.
Johnson reviewed the Downtown Improvement Project, shared street furniture and believed that signage should be updated at Park & Delano Streets with a similar sign added at Marshall and Second Streets.
The request to approve Accounts Payable for $272,968.37 and Payroll for $108,585.86, totaling $381,554.23 was approved.
The Council scheduled a public hearing on the budget for the May 8, 2023 Council meeting.
The Council decided to maintain the 16.488 mills while increasing water usage by 3% and sewer by 1.5%.
Water Utilities Director Doug Sweeris took the podium to lead information sessions regarding:
A request to hire a company to locate the leaks in the water lines that are damaging the sub-soil and costing the city money. The motion passed to hire American Leak Detection for $10,000. They should begin in about 2 weeks.
A request passed to authorize purchase Order 23-0688 to purchase water main replacement materials from EJ so they will be available when MDOT begins construction of the Roundabout. This will include upgrading one current line from 6” to 8”. MDOT requested the City purchase the items because delivery time is about 52 weeks. MDOT will reimburse the City for the materials they requested.
A purchase order for $28,500 to Dixon Engineer to perform the initial engineering work in preparation for the spring 2024 painting of the Western Water Tower was approved. This is not painting. It covers the preliminary work.
A request to approve a logo for the new Source Water Protection Committee, formerly Well Head Protection, was approved to better address that the group focuses on more than well water protection.
The committee will be given a matching grant of $15,000 from EGLE and $15,000 from the City to assist in purchasing materials to educate businesses and the public about source water, the water system and how to protect the water supply.
The planning commission has been working on a complete rewrite of the City Master Plan. At the March meeting, the commission decided it was time to begin the commenting period on the Draft Master Plan for the City of Allegan. The Council voted to begin the 42-day Public Commenting Period that will include informational meetings open to the public.
The Council approved the recommendation to reappoint Rachel McKenzie for a 1-year term, Coulter Purdum to a 2-year term, and Trish Winter to a 3-year term on the Positively Allegan/Downtown Board.
The Council approved the purchase order for $12,000 to rent a Ferris Wheel and carnival funhouse from ACP Entertainment for Bridgefest 2023.
Michaela Kleehammer, City Clerk, received a phone call inviting the Council and staff to tour the new grow facility in the Industrial area on Friday, May 5, 2023 at 10am.
Parker Johnson reminded the Council that Friday, April 28, the City would celebrate Arbor Day by planting another Maple on the Riverfront at 10am.
April Showers had businesses open from 5-8pm. The town was not as busy, but businesses were happy with the attendance.
Joel Dye shared that they are clarifying the City Hall workers’ schedules to maintain City Hall being open 5 days of a week from 8:30-4:30.
Dave Redding shared that the Allegan Labyrinth Board and Modern Woodmen would host the May 6th and 7th Spring Cleanup with participants meeting at Rossman Park at 9sm each day to clean up the community.
Delora Andrus shared that OnPoint would have an Open House for Friends & Family on Wed., April 26th from 5-7pm
Peter Hanse’s business received a letter requesting sponsorship for Escanaba in the Moonlight that is coming to Griswold Auditorium.
Roger Bird gave special thanks to Sgt. Dame who came to their home on Easter morning to unlock his son’s car door because the keys were locked inside.
Teresa Galloway thanked those who erected the signs at M40 and M89 and on Water Street.
The City will need a Tent for Bridgefest on Sat., June 10, from 10am-6pm.
Water Utilities Director Doug Sweeris and the Council explored rate increases to meet increases in expenses. The probing question was… If the increase is not at an adequate %, will there be money left in the fund balance or reserved fund?
Allegan has a unique water system so it can’t be compared to other cities. The council must consider options so it may be helpful to look at how the software works. Even with the best budgeting, it is uncertain what unforeseen events may occur.
Water line replacement is moving along. The contracted workers are moving more quickly than city workers, but when they finish, the City worker on their team will assist the City team. That should move the City’s portion along more quickly.
Moving of County Offices
The Council reviewed a Resolution that could be sent to the Allegan County Commissioners regarding the moving of offices from the County Court House to the County facilities at Dumont Lake. The resolution referred to the fact that the County must make accommodation for the growth of court services. It pointed out that the services slated to move part of their operations out of the City included the County Clerk, the County Register of Deeds, the County Drain Commissioner and the County Treasurer. The document also noted the loss of traffic in the City which could mean a loss in revenue which may affect the economy in the City.
Because of the listed factors, the Council considered resolving that the elected offices must have a principle office and appropriate space in the County Seat, that the City of Allegan should be recognized as the County Seat, the Commissioners should support the economic vitality of the City, and all county decisions should be rescinded if the conflict with provisions in the current resolution.
Rob Sarro spoke to the fact that the county commissioners are following state law. The questions regarding loss of income due to the move is unknown at this time since other agencies are moving into the area. Portions of the three departments do not require in-person actions as they have gone online. The commissioners feel that the plan is very in line with what the county is doing. The plans shared for renovation and some new construction will require conversations as to where to place the statue at the corner of Hubbard and Chestnut Streets.
City Council members still had questions regarding state law and if the Dumont Lake facility is considered part of the County Seat since county offices and functions are located there.
Historic District Commission
Conversation returned to the need to vote on a recommendation regarding the HDC. Questions arose on what the Council had already voted on. Reference was made to the packet of the February 3, 2023 meeting.
Pointed questions became: Do we have anyone to work toward achieving the HDC goals either on the City staff or HDC members? What is the interest of City residents? What are the benefits that would be accomplished if the HDC stayed or was dissolved? Should the current HDC be disbanded then allow for a new group to examine how to preserve the true historic buildings in the City? Is the health of the HDC at a level where it can function as it should?
The City Hall staff was given the task to clarify a resolution.