By Rosemary K. Otzman
“How do you propose to fix the parking issues at Belleville High School?” Belleville Fire Chief Brian Loranger asked the City Council at the end of its regular meeting on Monday.
He said there were many events at once on Saturday that led to parking that would keep emergency vehicles from getting in.
Steve Jones, planning commission chairman and a school employee, said there was a body building event at the BHS auditorium, with sessions in the day and night on Saturday.
The Cougars football team uses the field on Saturday and people were parking in inappropriate places because of the crowd.
Add to that, the Homecoming Dance and there was a full gym and full auditorium. He said the fitness center door was being used for people to get to the auditorium and people were parking close to the building to avoid the rain.
“There’s no way to get an emergency vehicle in,” Jones agreed.
Chief Loranger suggested the school should hire some traffic control people.
Police Chief Gene Taylor said he will address the traffic situation with the school superintendent, as he does each year the problem with the high school band members walking in the middle of dark streets to get back to the school after the nighttime parade in December.
Then, Chief Taylor mentioned the annual problem in Harbour Pointe subdivision during Halloween trick or treating, which is made more severe by guests to private parties in the sub.
After the downtown Belleville 5-7 p.m. trick or treating, costumed children from throughout the area head to local subdivisions for more treats.
All that adds up to people parking on both sides of the subdivision streets and cars following their trick or treaters through the one remaining lane down the middle to make sure they are safe.
There’s no way an emergency vehicle could get to the back of the subdivision on Halloween and that worried everyone.
Mike Renaud, who lives in Harbour Pointe, said last year they put up a sign to prohibit parking in the subdivision, but it was moved to the side. He said last year the council talked about restricting parking to just one side of the street year-round to allow access to emergency vehicles.
Councilman Brian Blackburn, who lives in Victoria Commons, said they have no parking on one side for emergency vehicle access, but people ignore the signs.
Mayor Kerreen Conley, who lives in Harbour Pointe, said the temporary no-parking signs worked during Strawberry Fest.
“It might be a good use of junior officers for an hour,” Renaud suggested, referring to the time immediately following the downtown event.
Chief Taylor said there was no problem with enforcement, once the council decided what it wanted to do.
Mayor Conley said they will keep working on the problem and come up with other solutions administratively.
A mailer explaining the situation will be sent to Harbour Pointe residents, but Councilwoman Kim Tindall didn’t like spending taxpayers’ money for that.
Tom Fielder said they may want to start the “ticket and tow” procedure.
“There’s got to be a way to address it,” said Mayor Conley, as the 49-minute meeting adjourned.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:
• Held a public hearing on the new fireworks ordinance and then passed it;
• Introduced a zoning ordinance amendment that added restaurants in the B-1 district. This will be on the Nov. 4 meeting agenda. The planning commission already held a public hearing and recommended the amendment;
• Approved the Belleville Area Chamber of Commerce request for the Winter Fest Parade at 6 p.m., Dec. 7, and street closings that day to provide for on-stage singers (Main Street closed between Third and Roys starting at noon) and a Soup Crawl on closed Fourth Street beginning at noon. The fireworks after the parade were already approved;
• Heard Belleville Downtown Development Authority coordinator Carol Thompson give an update on DDA activities, including approval of Wayfinding Signs and a year-long, outdoor sculpture exhibit. Rental of the sculptures is estimated at $11,000 and the DDA authorized $5,000. Thompson said, so far, they have $4,800 in donations from “Community Art Partners”;
• Approved accounts payable of $410,591.93 and departmental purchases in excess of $500: to the Inland Press, $543.92 for election ballots from the general fund; to Oakland County Treasurer, $515.88 for radio communication parts from the Drug Fund; and to Western Wayne County Fire, $2,319.29 for dues and participation fee for general fund/fire;
• Heard Councilwoman Tindall announce that Mayor Conley ran in a race in Detroit over the weekend and “did well.” Mayor Conley responded, “I finished.” They referred to the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon, a 26.2-mile race on Sunday that had 27,000 runners registered and included a route over the Ambassador Bridge and through Belle Isle;
• Heard Mayor Conley praise the Harvest Fest put on Oct. 12, saying it was “a simple gathering in a small town.” She said the nickels hidden in a pile of straw was popular with the children and, “Who would have thought?”; and
• Heard Mayor Conley announce the city’s Plante Moran financial consultant Molly Goike is leaving Plante Moran, but the mayor said she was sure Plante Moran will furnish a suitable replacement.
By Rosemary K. Otzman