By Rosemary K. Otzman
There was no disagreement that a new political action committee has the right to peaceably assemble at Horizon Park for a Friend Raiser – Fund Raiser event from 5 to 8 p.m. on June 18.
The question was whether the Common Sense Library PAC could reserve the gazebo/pavilion for the meeting.
At Monday’s regular meeting of the Belleville City Council, Barbara Miller was on the agenda with her request to use the park site for her meeting. She was directed by city administration to come before the council.
Miller explained that the PAC was formed in opposition to millage for the library bond and construction. She said members will take donations, sign up volunteers, recruit poll workers and find people who will take signs.
Mayor Pro-Tem Jack Loria, who was presiding at the meeting in the absence of Mayor Kerreen Conley, said, “Barb, just go sit there early.” He noted they haven’t reserved the site in the past, but the council was no objection to it.
But, Councilwoman Kim Tindall wanted it on the record and made a motion to allow the group to use the pavilion. Councilman Tom Smith seconded the motion.
“Does everyone have to come here to use the gazebo?” asked former Councilman and attorney George Chedraue. He said if the city lets this group use the gazebo, it would look like the city supports the PAC.
“They have passed a resolution” in favor of keeping the library in the city, Miller said, adding, “We have the right to assemble.”
“What better place for a discussion?” said Councilman Tom Fielder.
Chedraue warned that if you allow others to use the park for political meetings, “You’ll have every other group wanting to be there.
“She has a right to stand up and speak on a soap box,” Chedraue said, adding Miller could just go there when she wants to.
City Manager Diana Kollmeyer said the council has said it wants people to come to it when they want to use public space.
“You want notice so if [the group is] controversial, you can get your police” alerted, Miller said.
“I don’t think you can tell people not to come,” Councilwoman Tindall said.
Chedraue said in December the Strawberry Festival group said people couldn’t be passing out literature, but people do have the right.
Mike Renaud said potentially an opposing group might want to be there before Miller’s group arrives, to keep her from using the site.
Miller said to the council, “I’m putting you on notice” concerning her planned use of the gazebo.
When it was noted there was no need to pass Tindall’s motion, she replied, “I stay with the motion,” and the council unanimously passed it.
Miller also said she wanted to thank the city for the sculpture program the city and its Downtown Development Authority put together.
“It’s a tremendous lift for the city,” Miller said. “A lot of people are talking about it.”
Later in the meeting, Councilwoman Tindall, who said she now works downtown, said she was disappointed in the placement of the “lollypops” on the Fourth Street Square because it takes out a block of seats on the square that people use to watch parades.
She also said the microphone on the “Heavy Metal” sculpture at the other end of the square is already damaged. Tindall said many people are taking pictures of the sculptures.
Tindall said the Belleville Area Council for the Arts is so pleased that it has been sought out by the Detroit Institute of Arts and will bringing DIA art to the Art Affair on Main event in Belleville this summer.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:
• Approved closing High Street, from Charles to Main streets, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Memorial Day, May 26, for the 10th-annual Thunder Rolls in Belleville put on by Brown Funeral Home and Brown Family Center. The event begins with a motorcycle parade starting at Wayne County Community College and proceeding throughout Van Buren and Sumpter townships and ending up at the Veterans’ Memorial on High Street for a memorial service from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Tindall told Kathie Steigerwald she shouldn’t have waited until the last minute to seek approval for the event, since others could have got in ahead of her. Steigerwald apologized and said she would apply in January next year;
• Heard Steigerwald say that the annual Angel of Hope gathering, every year at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6, is for families of children who have passed away. This year, the Chamber of Commerce parade is on the same night. Dec. 6 is the date of all Angel of Hope gatherings around the world and can’t be changed. “Either we have it on Dec. 6 or not at all,” Steigerwald said. She asked that the parade date be changed, so the two events don’t conflict. She was told the city has already approved the parade for Dec. 6 and she should take it up with the Chamber;
• Approved use of Victory Park from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on June 4 for a can and bottle drive by Jacqueline Riley to earn money for her Army Cadette training in Kentucky. Her grandmother, Leona Herrmann, made the request for her granddaughter. Riley has had the bottle drive at the Moose Lodge parking lot in the past and thought a more central location might be better. It was suggested she set up the collection on South Liberty Street at the park so people could just drive up with their donations;
• Approved two dates for possible Canton Lions Club fund raising at Five Points – May 23 and May 30 – because the last dates that were approved were rained out by heavy storms;
• Approved three required Wayne County annual permits for Pavement Restoration, Maintenance, and Special Events;
• Set a public hearing for 7:30 p.m., June 2, to get comments on the proposed city budget;
• Approved a request from two Belleville High School New Tech students for the council to do anything within their power “to identify, prevent, and stop genocide in the area”;
• Heard Tindall ask for the hours of the Strawberry Festival to be added to the minutes of the May 5 meeting;
• Approved accounts payable of $46,739.86 and the following departmental purchases in excess of $500: to Michigan Municipal League, annual dues of $2,554; to Jack Doheny, street sweeper repairs and maintenance of $3,203; and to SLC Meter annual maintenance of $3,250;
• Heard BHS student John Couperthwaite say that the weather vane on top of the gazebo at Horizon Park has the east and west markers flipped the wrong way. The north and south are right, but not the east and west. He said it makes him laugh every time he goes by. City Manager Kollmeyer said that has been noticed before and it is a decoration not made to be right. Also, the compass in the Fourth Street Square isn’t right, either, she said; and
• Heard Councilman Fielder thank the police department for handling the “difficult situation” the previous Monday, while the council sat at City Hall discussing the budget. He referred to the shooting on West Columbia Avenue.
By Rosemary K. Otzman