Just before Sumpter Township Police Chief Eric Luke got up to address the Belleville City Council at its April 18 meeting, Councilman Tom Fielder had an announcement.
Councilman Fielder is also president of the Strawberry Festival and he announced that Chief Luke, who lives in the city of Belleville, was asked to be Grand Marshal for the Strawberry Festival Parade and had accepted.
Councilwoman Kim Tindall said that they had also asked retired Sumpter Police Chief James Pierce to be honored, as well, but he “respectfully declined.”
Chief Luke said after that announcement it probably wasn’t the best time to speak of his frustrations and disappointments with the city council.
“I brought Harbour Pointe to you,” he said, holding up a cloth bag containing pieces of concrete from the street in his subdivision. He held up the large rocks and said, “This is a disgrace.”
He said this isn’t new. The roadway started breaking down four or five years ago and now the roadways are crumbling.
He said in February he read in the Independent that the city council was going to set up an informational meeting on upgrading the roads in the city.
“Mayor Conley,” Luke said, “you drive it every day.” The mayor also lives in Harbour Pointe.
Luke said a piece of concrete hit his house when a car drove by and knocked it loose. He said Harbour Pointe Drive must be one of the worst streets in the city, if not the worst.
Mayor Conley said Greylock is the worst street and Harbour Pointe is second.
“I’m angry,” Luke said. “It takes a lot for me to come here on my week off.” He said he also picks up the asphalt patches that are loose so he doesn’t fall when he crosses the street to visit a neighbor.
“The residents deserve a lot more from the city council and city government,” Luke continued.
“Most of the dirt roads in Sumpter Township are better than this,” he said.
Mayor Conley said the city intends to set up one meeting, if not multiple meetings, to discuss the condition of the streets since they will have to have a bond issue.
“We’re going to have to bite the bullet,” Mayor Conley said. She said the ranking of the streets shows Harbour Pointe as the second-worst street and the rankings were done independently, referring to any criticisms that might arise because her home in that subdivision.
Conley said there has been a changeover in the city’s DPS Director, with the one who championed the road upgrades leaving and his replacement leaving, as well. She said the city engineers will have to do it, now.
Building Official Rick Rutherford said since it got warm the street sweepers have been going out on a more regular basis.
“The sweeper must double in weight going down Harbour Pointe,” Luke said, adding over the past three years the street has become more crumbled each year, once the deterioration process took hold.
Luke said when he comes home from work, he bumps along W. Columbia Avenue and then bumps into his subdivision.
Rutherford said after the Strawberry Festival, Wayne County will be resurfacing West Columbia from Five Points to Elwell Road. He said the county also talked about expansion to the guard rail around the corner at High Street.
City Manager Diana Kollmeyer said they are told there will be no ditches. The ditches put in along East Huron River Drive last summer gave the city headaches.
Rutherford said they plan to be done by the time school starts.
“We’re talking about a large amount of money here,” said Councilman Tom Fielder. “Shame on us if we don’t ask you that question.”
Luke asked what if people say no. “We can’t go back to dirt roads. What would happen to Harbour Pointe?”
Mayor Conley said the structure set up was a five-year project, doing the worst first and then down the list. By the end of the five years, they should be done, she said.
“Some people have good streets,” Luke said, referring to Bedell, “and may not want to pay for other streets in the city.”
Mayor Conley said she wishes they could ask the schools to help since all the heavy buses go down the streets and then there’s the trash trucks.
Luke said Mike Renault asked at a city meeting if the Downtown Development Authority couldn’t pay for streets in its district, such as Victoria Commons.
Mayor Conley said that could happen if the DDA had enough money.
The mayor pointed out Harbour Pointe and Victoria Commons were both built more than 20 years ago.
“I can still go to parts of the world and walk down Roman roads and I walk on my road and hurt myself,” Luke said.
City Manager Kollmeyer said they would need a bigger facility than city hall for the meeting on the streets. Mayor Conley said they could possibly get the Commons at Belleville High School. They would have two meetings with the engineer present and possibly broken into presentations by phases proposed.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:
- Approved the Relay for Life walk/fund raiser for Saturday, May 14, closing High Street between the gazebo in Horizon Park and Johnny’s parking lot from 8 a.m. to midnight;
- Approved closing the south side of Roland Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 10 for the Belleville Area Garden Walk, the 2016 fund raiser for the library. A limited access lane for residents will be left open;
- Heard Alan Whitehead of Kona Running Company withdraw his request to use the Fourth Street Square for a beer/wine tent on June 17 for the end of the Kona Strawberry Run, from 4 to 10 p.m. He said he didn’t get the quote he wanted and they are looking for an alternative location, which would be on the lake near Horizon Park. “If we’re not supplying the beer, we’ll be giving out ice cream,” Whitehead said. Mayor Kerreen Conley said everyone knows where he is talking about and the parking lot at that establishment is a city parking lot so he might have to come back to see the council about using it, after all. Whitehead said last year they had parking problems for the 1,400 participants, but now they have made arrangements for parking at Lakewood shopping center and shuttle buses. He said participants have been impressed with the lake setting, calling it “pretty awesome”;
- Approved the 2016-17 budget session schedule, beginning May 9 with the first review, at 6 p.m. A proposed budget will be presented to council by the city manager at the May 2 council meeting;
- Approved accounts payable of $78,429.35 and the following departmental purchases in excess of $500: to EJ $2,320.50 for hydrant from Water funds; to Metro Environmental $745 for sewer repair from Water funds, and to MDEQ $2,000 for annual fees from Water funds;
- Heard City Manager Kollmeyer announce that Belleville has again received money from the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority to offer summer jobs. She said they will get $49,000 to pay for 12 positions, 28 hours a week, for those aged 14 to 24. Last year the city had a $47,497 grant;
- Heard City Manager Kollmeyer report that the city is planning a meeting of the Civil Service Commission, depending on when the members can meet, to consider potential police officer candidates, and candidates for city clerk/treasurer. It later was set for April 27;
- Heard Councilman Fielder say he attended last Friday’s Council of Western Wayne meeting in Plymouth on behalf of the mayor and learned the CWW region is the first in Wayne County to offer 911 texting, as secondary to phoning in a 911 call;
- Heard Councilman Tom Smith announce the Belleville Area Council for the Arts fund raiser for Music Lakeside is usually in June, but this year it will be Sept. 9 at BYC; and
- Heard Kollmeyer announce that since the city now has no DPW Director, Building Official Rutherford has agreed to come in from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., rather than 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., to handle some of the work temporarily.