By Rosemary K. Otzman
At the beginning of the Dec. 15 Belleville City Council meeting, Councilman Tom Fielder gave a statement encouraging city officials to consider selling city hall at 6 Main Street and moving the city operations to another location.
He said 6 Main, at Five Points, is a prime location and not on the tax rolls. Maybe it would be a good location for a commercial venture, he said.
He said they have to consider where they would go if they leave that building.
“Are we sitting on something that has value?” Fielder asked. “It’s the most traveled corner in the city.”
Fielder said they should look at alternative sites, noting that the city does own an unused property between the DPW yard and Victoria Commons.
Mayor Kerreen Conley said last year, during budget discussions, they had talked about this. She said it would be a great thing to put on the agenda in January sometime and move forward.
Fielder said city hall and the fire department have issues with their buildings and maybe they could “solve two issues with one solution.”
He said rather than putting money into expensive repairs on the two buildings, maybe they could move to a new place.
Later in the meeting, Mayor Conley said she had been at a meeting at the new Westland City Hall and, “WOW.” She said it is a great reuse of a Circuit City building. The 65,000 square feet has an open floorplan, she said.
She said that move was made without a raise in taxes for Westland citizens.
In other business at the Dec. 15 meeting, the council:
• Held a three-minute public hearing on a new Snow Emergency Ordinance and then unanimously passed the ordinance. DPW Director Keith Tackett said it was a compilation of the Southgate and several other municipal ordinances and it is to get cars off the street just long enough to get the city streets plowed and safe. A number of ways will be used to let the public know when the Snow Emergency is in effect;
• Held a two-minute public hearing on use of 2015 federal Community Development Block Grant funds and then unanimously passed the motion to approve. The expected $57,000 was approved to be used for $9,830 for Senior/ Disabled Services; $40,470 for ADA park projects at Horizon Park at the Canoe/Kayak Launch; $1,000 for senior chore services; and $5,700 for Program Administration/Strategic Planning;
• Approved the report on the 2014 Strawberry Festival and approved the dates of June 18-21 for the 2015 Strawberry Festival, with the carnival and food vendors setting up at 6 p.m. on June 18 to begin closure of Main Street for the event. The proposed 2015 Responsibility / Administrative Policies submitted by the Strawberry Festival was taken by the council, but not approved. Mayor Conley said there were a lot of issues last year and the city will get the issues together and then share them with the festival committee and bring it back to the council for a vote at a future meeting;
• Approved the 2016 SMART Specialized Services agreement that provides funds to help to subsidize the operation of a service that provides transportation of the elderly and disabled in the city;
• Approved closing a part of High Street at Horizon Park for Music Lakeside on the following dates: June 25; July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; and Aug. 6, 13, 27. Taste of Belleville is scheduled for Aug. 20;
• Approved the following mayoral reappointments: Planning Commission, Henry Kurczewski, Rebecca Hasen, and Matthew Wagner, with terms to expire Dec. 31, 2017; Board of Review, James Graham, term to expire Dec. 31, 2017; Cemetery Advisory Committee, Bob Stoner with term to expire Dec. 31, 2018; and Parks and Recreation Commission, Thomas Fielder with term to expire Dec. 31, 2018. The reappointment of John Hoops to the DDA with a term to expire Dec. 31, 2018 was removed from the agenda and Mayor Conley said it would be resubmitted in January;
• Heard Jeff Harris, a resident of Harbour Pointe, ask if the council had read his “compelling evidence” on why the parking ordinance change in his subdivision should be rescinded. Those who were present at the Nov. 17 meeting replied it had been read to them, so they heard it. Mayor Conley had been absent and she indicated she had not read the long document. She gave Harris five minutes to talk. He insisted the document be included in the minutes of that meeting, but the minutes had already been approved. He said if there is an accident, he wants to be able to pull that up from the minutes. Harris also asked that the subject of permit parking be put on the next agenda. Mayor Conley said if any councilperson asks that subject to be put on an agenda, it will be; and
• Heard Police Chief Hal Berriman say that three police vehicles will be put up for bids. He said they had a hard time starting the two at the DPW yard, but they wanted them running when they sell them;
• Approved accounts payable of $136,675.51 and the following departmental expenditures in excess of $500: Blue Ribbon, repair, $2,503.95; Hennessey, plan review, $1,911.31; Morton Salt, salt, $6,109.23 (half of seasonal supply); SLC, supplies, $1,295.65; and Belfor, insurance deductible, $1,000.
Mayor Conley explained the absence of Councilman Tom Smith, saying his significant other, Michael, had a heart attack a couple of weeks ago.
City Hall will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the Friday after Christmas. It will then be closed New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and be open Jan. 2.
By Rosemary K. Otzman