By Rosemary K. Otzman
The prices were due to go up on Dec. 1 for emergency sirens, and, so, on Nov. 18, just short of the deadline the Van Buren Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the purchase of 13 sirens.
Actually the price of $19,450 per pole was four years old and was the price quoted to Wayne County as a governmental bid by West Shore Services of Allendale.
After Dec. 1 they will go up to $20,850 each — $1,400 more per siren.
The total for 13 sirens was $273,128, plus a total of $5,395 per year for maintenance of all the sites. The township will be reimbursed $73,230 for three sirens by the VBT Downtown Development Authority and $77,800 for four sirens by the Community Development Block Grant fund. The CDBG money can be used for sirens in the low/moderate income area in the northern part of the township.
Some of the township’s cost for the six it agreed to buy, mostly for the southern side of the township, may come from its insurance company, the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, and/or from the VBT Civic Fund, which was meeting Nov. 20 to consider an allocation.
Actually, the price was due to go up on Nov. 1, but the township board asked West Shore president Jeff DuPilka for a few more weeks. He set up a final deadline of Dec. 1.
Four years ago Public Safety Committee chairman Diane Madigan had DuPilka come to the township for a meeting and he showed a map with circles he drew of what it would take to cover the township with emergency sirens. But no action was taken by the township until now.
Fire Chief Dan Besson, who is the Emergency Manager for the township, put the sirens on the VBT wish list of capital purchases and this year the township got serious.
VBT Public Safety Director Greg Laurain told the board on Nov. 18 that West Shore will order the sirens immediately and they should be here by the first of the year.
He said, weather permitting, all 13 will be installed in January or February and West Shore will invoice the township after completion.
Police Lt. Charles Bazzy, who last summer was given the responsibility for working on the sirens, said the government rate of $19,450 per pole is a four-year-old price that is being honored through Dec. 1. He said since other communities in Wayne County have the same kind of sirens – Federal Warning systems — there will be interoperability with the communities and the county and they will be able to set off each other’s sirens in emergencies.
Director Laurain said the sirens are not just for tornados and bad weather, but for emergencies at the landfills, the airports, and the freeways.
There is a plan to have Dispatch turn on the sirens when an emergency occurs and also have Dispatch send out a Nixle alert on the details of the emergency, as well as a message on the bottom of the cable TV transmission. The idea is when residents hear the sirens, they should go inside and learn the details of the emergency.
Laurain said he will give the board monthly updates on the siren installation.
Three of the sirens would be installed on property owned by the township. The other 10 would be on county rights of way. Locations are:
• Belleville Road and Lake Villa Drive;
• Haggerty Road and Independence;
• Belleville Road and Ecorse Road;
• Cedar Street and Denton Road;
• Tyler Road east of Belleville Road;
• Hoeft Road and Hull Road;
• Hull Road and Bak Road;
• Martinsville Road south of Hull Road;
• Haggerty Road south of Savage Road;
• Martinsville Road south of Huron River Drive.
Van Buren Township is the only community in Wayne County that does not have emergency warning sirens, Lt. Bazzy said.
In other business at the 42-minute meeting on Nov. 18, the board:
• Approved the job description and personal services agreement with Murray J. Knowles III as Planning and Economic Development Director starting Dec. 10. He will be paid $75,000. This position has been vacant since May. Knowles, who is called “Jack,” has worked in the private sector, where he has 25 years of experience with land planning, project entitlements, construction and project management, land use and feasibility studies, master plans, planned unit developments, mixed-use planning, commercial and residential site plans, plats, and condominium documents. He has served as a trustee on the Scio Township Board since 2008 and has been on that township’s zoning board of appeals and planning commission. He holds a bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Michigan;
• Pulled from the agenda approval of the job description for the executive assistant to the supervisor with a $64,933 salary. “I doo plan to take some time to fill this position,” said Supervisor Combs at the Nov. 17 work/study session. “I want to make sure we get the right person”;
• Approved a six-month personal leave of absence from the date of board approval until March 15, as outlined in the fire department union agreement, for Stephen Jones, who is a paid-on-call fire fighter. Jones began work full time on Sept. 15 at the Ypsilanti Township Fire Department. The request requires the approval of the Director of Public Safety and the Board of Trustees;
• Approved the 2015 Board of Trustees meeting schedule and the 2015 township holiday schedule, as outlined in the Salaried Employees Benefit Manual, AFSCME Local 236, and POLC contracts. There are 13 holidays;
• Heard Jakleen Ochalek say the house and parcel of land next door to her at the corner of Savage and Haggerty is up for sale and coded as commercial. The neighbors don’t want a business in the middle of a residential neighborhood, she said. Supervisor Combs said she talked to the assessor and found that property has “dual zoning.” Combs said they would have to go to the planning commission to have the zoning changed. Combs said she would have someone from the planning department contact Ochalek and explain the steps that need to be taken; and
• Heard Alan Babish ask when items are being rushed onto the board agenda that the board will allow members of the audience to ask questions before the board votes. He said when things are discussed at the work/study session and then not voted on for two weeks, he can get his questions answered by email. When an issue goes from the work/study on Monday to the regular meeting the next day there is no time for questions. Babish said he can’t always get to the work/study meeting in the afternoon. “Don’t take the audience and voters completely out,” Babish said. He said since the executive assistant decision got taken off that night’s agenda he will have time to do an email.
By Rosemary K. Otzman