by CYNTHIA KMETT
If you’re an absentee voter, you’ll get the content-neutral information on how the proposed charter amendment will work and how it will affect the city’s operations by first class mail this week. Absentee ballots will go out this week.
If you’re going to vote at the polls on Tuesday, November 7, your information will come by bulk mail, which saves the city a great deal of money.
Before deciding how the piece presented by City Manager Brian Kischnick and City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm should be sent out, they heard from several residents. One resident supporting a “yes” vote on the amendment called development on the Troy Civic Center a “speculative business venture,” and a second said that not developing the land is what he wants.
Asking for a “no” vote on the issue, Mike Culpepper, former Troy DPW director as well as former Auburn Heights city manager, stated his concerns and said the proposed charter amendment will “lead to some very bad government by any scope.” He added that it takes away the city’s ability to respond in a timely manner.
Kelly Jones called the amendment “a great threat to our democracy” that “will cripple us as a city.” She expressed concerns about the city’s AAA bond rating where one of the key factors is a well-run government.
Mayor Dane Slater took exception with those who have said the city and administration had not cooperated with those proposing the charter amendment. It seems no city council members or the city’s administration were ever contacted about the group’s concerns for the Civic Center development until after the petitions were in circulation.
We should all remember that there are other questions on the November 7 ballot. It’s a city council election with three seats up for grabs, and the Troy School District has a question to start a building and sinking fund (think savings account) to pay for improvements to the district’s infrastructure in the future.
Haven’t heard from the candidates? There’s a League of Women Voters Candidates Forum at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 5 at the CMN studios on Souter. It will be playing on CMN’s cable networks all month.
In other business, the city released a report on what happened to the 2004 Task Force report on the Civic Center’s future. You can read the full Task Force report in the reports on the city’s website under council agendas.
What that group wanted was an amphitheater, public art, a maze (hedges), a fountain plaza, enhanced gardens, Town Center Drive widened to a boulevard with a green median, plus ice skating and a snow hill in the winter.
What that group wanted: Civic Center Goals
Goal 1 Increase the residential and business utilization of the Civic Center.
Goal 2 Develop park and campus setting.
Goal 3 Immediate implementation with long-term growth path.
- Youth Utilization of the New Civic Center Site.
- Senior Utilization of the New Civic Center Site.
- Paths and Walkways.
- Winter Activities Area (sledding and ice skating on existing pond).
Assistant City Manager Mark Miller and City Engineer Steven Vandette looked into why this didn’t happen. While some items got started, like paths and walkways, and cleaning up the drain, there was no actual mechanism in the Task Force Report on how any improvements would be paid for.
Miller and Vandette estimated that improvements would have cost about $8 million, including $1 million for a 250-seat outdoor theater.
Mayor Slater reminded the audience that it wasn’t long before the country was in a financial crisis. “We were in survival mode for five years,” he noted, adding that the city had drastically reduced our police department to stay solvent.
Now that times are better, he asked; “Let’s get together; let’s not be divisive.”