At the end of its regular meeting on Nov. 13, the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees discussed at length its support of using the newly vacant Elwell Elementary School as the site of the new Belleville Area District Library.
The subject of the district library was brought up by the board to Mary Ban, who was speaking under audience comments and has strong feelings about the library.
Ban said if the library board continues to pursue the DNR site on the lake, it would be creating a terrible traffic hazard. She said when she is on Belleville Road in that area at 3 p.m. weekdays, traffic going into the city is backed up to the shopping center.
If people were trying to get to the library as well it would be an even worse traffic jam, and very unsafe, she said.
“Elwell School would be a perfect library,” Ban said, adding, “We can do that.”
She said the library board have “pie in the sky ideas” and want to put a pod on the lake. She recalled State Rep. Gary Owen helped put a library pod on Ford Lake.
“Have they lost their common sense?” Ban asked, referring to the library board.
She noted the two Sumpter residents, who are on the board – Mike Boelter and Joy Cichewicz – are going right along with other board members and not representing Sumpter’s interests.
She said Elwell school has a area that was renovated not long ago that can be used for a library.
“We have a treasure,” she said of the school. “When you have a cow, you need to use it. It’s our golden calf and we need to milk her.”
She said there is plenty of space at Elwell for all the umpteen rooms needed for computers for a library.
“They don’t listen to the citizens,” said Ban, who stopped going to library board meetings because she said they were not listening to her.
“And, we’re responsible for them getting there,” said Treasurer John Morgan.
Boelter and Cichewicz were appointed by the board as interim board members and then they were elected, twice, by voters to the positions. Morgan said Sumpter voters supported them because they were from Sumpter.
“We don’t need just a satellite,” said Ban of the plan to put a smaller library in Sumpter. “That [Elwell] can be the main library.”
Sumpter Township attorney Rob Young said he had a recent conversation with the library board’s attorney John Day and he said Day told him the board wants to reach out to Sumpter and address its concerns. He expects a meeting with Day between now and the holidays or after the holidays.
Ban said people she talks to say they can’t believe that the library board hasn’t dropped the idea of a big library on the DNR property.
“I know they aren’t going to vote for any big library,” Ban stated.
Trustee Peggy Morgan said the board had sent a request to the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education, after being turned down by the superintendent.
Sumpter is asking for the newest play equipment in place at Elwell so they can transfer it to one of the township parks, since the Sumpter parents earned the money for the playscape. Sumpter had been told the district wants to move the equipment to one of its remaining schools.
Trustee Morgan said she has learned that the school district found out it would cost some $20,000 to take down and move the equipment, so now they are considering donating it to Sumpter.
Ban said there should be an independent appraisal on the value of Elwell School.
Young said it has been estimated it would cost the district $200,000 to tear the school down, which was the original plan.
Sumpter Deputy Supervisor Craig Moody said Sumpter met with the school officials when the sanitary sewer was being put in front of Elwell School and gave them a great deal to hook up to the sewer. The school’s septic system has been condemned, so Elwell School can’t be reopened until it’s hooked up to the sewer.
“Everybody wants something from Sumpter for nothing,” said Trustee Morgan. “… and they get it.”
In other business at the Nov. 13 meeting, the board:
• Approved, on a 4-1 vote, paying a total of $1,950 for six 3’x3’ welcome to Sumpter signs to upgrade those that were put up in the past. Clerk Clarence Hoffman voted no. Trustees William Hamm and Linda Kennedy were absent and excused because they were sick;
• Approved an agreement with Wayne County for the 2012 Community Development Block Grant funds;
• Approved the Supervisor Office’s request to use the PNA Hall on Dec. 17, from 2 to 6 p.m., for a holiday dinner for those in need in the community. Those interested in attending may call Craig Moody at 461-6201, ext. 226, to register so they will know how many turkeys to cook, or to get more information;
• Approved, with regret, the retirement of Ray Christiansen as mechanical / plumbing inspector as of Dec. 31 after 20 years of service;
• Approved advertising for a mechanical / plumbing inspector, who is paid per inspection, with Clerk Hoffman voting no. They hoped to get one person who can do both mechanical and plumbing like Christiansen, but may have to use two people. Hoffman said a full-time Van Buren Township employee (Judy Fields) was hired on May 11, 2010 as a part-time fill-in inspector and was never used. She could not come to inspect until after she got off work in VBT at 4 p.m. Moody said contractors need inspectors during the day. He said Fields can apply for the position;
• Approved a revision of the Parks & Recreation Commission’s Constitution that now says “no township trustee may serve or be appointed as a regular member of the Commission. Township Trustees may serve as alternate members of the Commission, but shall be prohibited from voting at Commission meetings in all circumstances…” Supervisor Johnny Vawters said, “Members of this board should not be full-time members of any commissions. That’s my belief”;
• Approved having township officials and deputies attend the annual Michigan Townships Association conference Jan. 22-25 in Detroit;
• Heard Moody give a report on the building department that earned $17,481 over the last month, up $7,000 from the previous month;
• Heard Treasurer Morgan announce that Pastor Gary Ward Crawford had died. Morgan said he was the lead engineer on the design of Crosswinds Marsh park. He suggested the township send a certificate to the family recognizing, “He is one of us”;
• Heard Supervisor Vawters read an announcement that trips for senior citizens to the Detroit Institute of Arts are available because of the millage that passed in Wayne County, with $100,000 set aside annually. That means about 60 senior trips with 35 seniors on each trip. The offer includes transportation and access to the DIA and is available to all publically supported senior programs in the county. Local senior groups need to apply for the trips immediately before they are all used up; and
• Heard attorney Young say he will check with Carleton Farms landfill and report at the next meeting on the landfill’s use of the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority [YCUA]. There was an apparent misstatement by the township engineer at a recent meeting which brought a letter to the editor of the Independent from YCUA saying no landfill in Sumpter Township has a disposal agreement with YCUA. Moody said the Sumpter landfill doesn’t dispose to YCUA. Its leachate goes to a Canton landfill site where it is pretreated and then sent to YCUA. It’s all the same company he explained.