By Diane Madigan
Independent Special Writer
The Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority decided at its Feb. 26 meeting that its first choice for location of a billboard to promote the township is on Westbound I-94 at Wayne Road, which would be available in April.
The billboard could state the location as, “Van Buren Township, 7 miles or just 7 minutes away,” as suggested by DDA member Joe Baskin.
Second choice is Westbound I-94, 3,000 feet east of Haggerty Road.
The billboard price is $3,000 a month and the DDA agreed to 12 weeks. Communication Associates was hired by the DDA to promote VBT and suggested the signs and the locations.
The 90-minute, regular meeting of the DDA was held during a heavy snowstorm with five members absent.
DDA Director Susan Ireland introduced VBT’s new interim Planning and Economic Development Director Arthur Mullen. Mullen told of his work in Detroit in the city’s Planning and Development Dept. and with the Mount Clemens DDA.
He is also currently on the board of the Michigan Downtown Association, which is where he met Ireland.
Mullen said, “Our previous Development Director, [Terry Carroll] is now with the Michigan Association of Planning, MAP.”
According to Mullen, when VBT Supervisor Linda Combs was thinking about making some changes, she called the MAP asking for recommendations. Amy Miller, from MAP suggested Mullen knowing that the township needed someone quickly.
“Coincidentally, Mullen had collaborated with Ireland on the letter about the zoo millage,” Supervisor Combs told the DDA. “It looked like it was a set-up, but honestly, I got his name from Amy Miller.”
Old Glory Flags
Rich Keenan, owner of Old Glory Flags, discussed problems with the banner arms and the balls on the end of the arms (end caps) on the street lights in the streetscape.
He said the heavy steel banner arms attached to the poles break away from fatigue, especially from the weight and extreme winds coming across the lake.
Working with Van Buren Steel, Keenan said he has designed a steel plate to secure the arm, costing $10-$11 per plate, replacing the current aluminum plate. Keenan also suggested that the steel arms be replaced with fiberglass arms that would have less vibration and leave off the heavy steel end caps which could become a safety issue if they fell on someone’s head.
Fiberglass arms would cost between $65 and $100 compared to steel at $200. Ireland said that replacing the 10-year-old banners is in the budget and she will get a quote for fiberglass arms and steel plates for the DDA’s consideration.
Old Glory has been servicing the 72 poles in the DDA district for the past six years.
Keenan asked for police presence when Old Glory swaps out the banners. He said he shows up with a huge arrow sign placed 150 feet behind the pole and two flagmen, but because of people texting, the crew has had four close-calls.
Update on Ecorse corner
Sally Hodges, of McKenna and Associates planning consultants, updated the DDA on gateway treatments at Ecorse and Belleville roads.
Through discussions, Wade Trim engineering consultants have modified the design for the Southwest corner, moving the curbing in front of Stack’s Liquor & Deli and moving the hammer heads (dead-end turn-arounds) 20’-30’ back from Belleville Road.
Hodges said she recently met with the owner of Stack’s about additional changes. This included closing the ditch, moving the turn-around back further, and helping the property owner to petition Wayne County to get the service drive vacated to the property line at Stack’s.
Comments were made about improvements made to the Stack’s building over the years and its “great sandwiches”.
If approved by Wayne County, Stack’s would have more parking, loading and unloading space, and there would be space on the SW corner for a township “entry focal point,” Hodges said.
At this point, changes to this corner would be field changes and would not have additional engineering charges, Hodges said.
Zoo Millage lawsuit
Ireland updated the DDA on the Wayne County Zoo Millage lawsuit that was filed Feb. 1. On Feb. 14, a status conference was held at Wayne County Circuit Court before Judge Daniel Ryan.
Attending were attorneys from what Ireland called “our side”, plus the Zoo Authority and the Zoological Society, along with an attorney representing the Wayne County Treasurer, Tim Killeen from the Wayne County Commission and a member of the Wayne County Art Authority.
Judge Ryan would like to issue his opinion by June 1, 2013 and ordered all parties to file their responses to the Complaint for Declaratory Judgment by March 5.
The Attorney for the Zoological Society stated that she would be filing a motion to intervene as a party and a counter claim. Judge Ryan set March 7 for a follow-up status conference.
Ireland stated that she had heard the judge is adamant about keeping comments down and not discussing the case or making a big media blitz.
Ireland said she received information from Fire Chief Dan Besson that once Wayne County Emergency Management has finished updating the 2006 Plan, they would determine if and when any grant money would be available for emergency sirens.
Township Hall Roof
Ireland said the bid award will occur in April for the township hall roof. Director Ed Miller said that they need to be sure to put a T-pipe on the roof to stop vibrations when the pipe lays on the roof.
Because Combs and Ireland have previous commitments, Mullen was asked to attend the upcoming Aerotropolis quarterly meeting and report back.
Ireland also reported that new personal property tax legislation will result in an annual reduction of approximately $9,356 to the VBT DDA district.
The DDA voted to support the 2013 Public Safety Day on Aug. 10 with expenses not to exceed $10,000. This year there will be digital finger-printing.
Director Mark Laginess reported on a
meeting he and Carol Bird had to develop a performance review for Ireland and he hopes to bring a formal report to the DDA board in the near future.
Absent and excused from the Feb. 26 meeting were Chairman Jere Dolph, Vice Chairman Kurt Atchinson, Secretary Sophie Zoller, and Directors Robert Bechtel and Ron Blank.
Director Carol Bird, the longest-serving member present, chaired the meeting, which included Directors Mark Laginess, Ed Miller, Jim Richter, and Joe Baskin, along with Supervisor Combs.
By Diane Madigan