Saline City Council Scorecard: Merchant Park, ChadTough Run, SPD Review and More

 09/15/2015 - 02:36
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Members of Saline Presbyterian Church attended Monday's city council meeting to voice concerns about the city's plan to move a grease dump immediately behind the church.

Here’s a quick scorecard from Monday’s Saline City Council meeting:

Merchant Park Plan Rattles Members of Presbyterian Church

A plan to improve Merchant Park drew the concern of members of Saline Presbyterian Church Monday. Several church members are unhappy with an aspect of the plan that would move the grease dumpster (which serves Dan’s and Downtown Dog Co.) to a location behind the church. That location is currently occupied by shrubs and flowers. One parishioner noted that the church has strived to make nearby properties, such as the garden at Hall and Michigan, inviting for Saline residents. “And now the city wants to remove the rose garden and replace it with a garbage dumpster?” Members of the church also said they were concerned about the potential odor, grease spills, rodents, pedestrian safety and other issues. The church’s council is expected to formally file its concerns with council in the coming weeks. Mayor Brian Marl noted that council has approved a conceptual plan, but not awarded any contracts for the work.

Merchant Park the small piece of property between Dan’s and Smoke BBQ. It’s owned by Bill Kinley and leased by the city for $1 a year. The city is responsible for maintenance of the property. In August, city council voted 4-2 to approve $114,000 of improvements to the park. But that vote was on Dean Girbach’s condition that adjacent property owners were notified. Member of the church said they were not notified.

City council had hoped to complete the work this fall so the upgrade was done before the 2016 Michigan Makeover project. That appears very unlikely at this stage.

No action was taken at Monday’s meeting.

Council Approves Review of SPD

Council Voted 7-0 to approve Mayor Marl’s plan to pay John Hess $5000 to conduct an independent review of the Saline Police Department. For more information, click here.

Council Approves ChadTough Run, Balks at Waiving Fees             

Saline City Council voted 7-0 to approved the Oct. 3 run/walk for the ChadTough Foundation. But the city won’t waive the approximately $500 in costs associated with the second annual event, which raises money for an organization that funds research and raises awareness about pediatric brain tumors. The foundation was funded by Jason and Tammi Carr, whose son Chad was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.

Council declined to waive associated costs (police officers at intersections, traffic cones, etc) fearing it would set a precedent and force council to approve all requests to waive costs. Mayor Pro-Tem David Rhoads offered to pay the cost and Mayor Brian Marl agreed to assist.

The second annual RunTough takes place Oct. 3 starting at Harvest Elementary School.

Council Approves Scouting Project at Mill Pond Park

Council voted 7-0 to approve Boy Scout Michael Wolf’s proposal to build a Gaga Ball pit in Mill Pond Park. It will be located at the southeast corner of the ROMP play structure. Wolf is constructing the project for his Eagle Scout rank.

Council Approves Scouting Project at Depot Museum

Council voted 7-0 to approve Boy Scout Jacob Ringle’s proposal to install a small replica outhouse at the Historic Depot Museum, 402 N. Ann Arbor St. The structure will be located between the livery and wind mill.

City Agrees to Sell .75 Acres to PSMI

City council voted 7-0 to sell .75 acres of land in the Sauk Trail Business Park to PSMI for a price of $25,000. PSMI needs the land to expand.

City Council Votes to Limit Practice of ‘Buying Years’

City council voted 7-0 to approve a new policy that will mostly end the employee practice of buying years toward retirement. Although actuarially the practice isn’t supposed to cost the city, some members of council believe the practice robs the city of experienced employees too soon. The policy does allow for “buying years” in instances when the employee is unable to work effectively due to disability or some unforeseen circumstance.

Payroll Service

City council approved an agreement with Paylocity for payroll services.

407 N. Harris St. Rezoned

Council voted to rezone 407 N. Harris St. The home is a non-conforming residence in an industrial zone. Council agreed to rezone the property to residential. Hoping to avoid piecemeal zoning, council accepted Dean Girbach’s suggestion to ask owners of adjacent non-conforming properties if they’re interested in rezoning.

City Buys Dump Truck

The city bought a 2016 GMC Sierra 3500 HD 4-by-4 chassis from Red Holman Buick GMC for $27,050.95. The city also bought a stainless steel dump body from Truck and Trailer Specialties for $14,332.

Sesquicentennial Task Force Appointments

City council approved the establishment of six sesquicentennial subcommittees of the sesquicentennial task force. Council also approved several appointments to the committees. Those names were not available in the city council agenda packet.

Henne Field Lighting Campaign

Mayor Pro-Tem Rhoads said the Friends of Henne Field are accepting donations in a fundraising campaign that will be matched with MEDC money if the group can raise $35,000 by Oct. 9. The money is being raised to install lighting and electrical outlets along the Henne Field Path. To donate, visit www.patronicity.com/Hennefield.

Preserve Partnership on the Horizon

Rhoads said York Township has signed on to a Memorandum of Understanding to create partnership to oversee a nature preserve on the property once known as the Charlie Berg property. The “Friends” of the Saline River Preserve would also include the City of Milan, the City of Saline and Saline Township. The MOU is to go in front of Milan next week and should be in front of Saline City Council at an upcoming meeting. Part of the plan, Rhoads said, is to make the Saline River navigable between Saline and Milan and, ultimately, Monroe (which would be the River Raisin).

Ultrasound Advice

Rhoads pointed out that council passed a resolution designating October as Breast Cancer Awareness month in Saline. He asked the resolution be changed to reflect information he’s learned while his wife, Leslee Niethammer, battles breast cancer. The resolution passed by council advises women to periodically have mammograms. Rhoads suggests they also have ultrasounds. He said his wife’s mammogram didn’t show her cancer, but an ultrasound did. Even after the ultrasound showed the cancer, the mammogram did not detect it.  “Periodically request an ultrasound instead of, or in addition to a mammogram. It could save someone’s life,” Rhoads said.

Bus Service Rolled Out in Pittsfield Township

Councilor Linda TerHaar said she attended the Urban Core public transit working group meeting and learned the expanded “The Ride” service has been rolled out in Pittsfield Township. “The AATA service is creeping over closer to Saline,” she said.

Harvest on the Farm Oct. 4

Councilor Dean Girbach said the Saline Area Historical Society hosts Harvest on the Farm Oct. 4 at the Rentschler Farm Museum.

County Cleanup Day Saturday

The county cleanup day, sponsored by Washtenaw County and the Saline Environmental Commission, is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19, at the DPW (1234 Tefft Court).

Sculptures Coming

Councilor TerHaar said the city’s Arts & Culture Committee is looking at possible locations for sculptures in the city. The committee also met Aug. 28 to discuss plans and goals for the coming year.

City Part of Streetlight Coalition

DPW Director Jeff Fordice has been attending meetings of the Southeast Michigan Municipal Street Lighting Consortium, which has aimed to convert streetlights to high-efficiency LED lighting.

Many municipalities are unhappy with DTE’s proposal to increase the cost of LED streetlights while decreasing the cost of older lights.

Review of Sauk Trail Business Park

A daycare center’s desire to purchase Sauk Trail Business Park property along Michigan Avenue sparked a discussion on whether the city should sell the property to non-industrial users. The city wants to be extra careful about uses in the Sauk Trail park since it is listed by the MEDC as a “certified park,” which means its businesses might be eligible for certain incentives – making the property more. There has been some talk that perhaps the city should rezone the land for other uses to make it more attractive to developers. The city will likely send the issue to its ordinance task force for further study.

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore founded The Saline Post on Aug. 15, 2012. Follow him on Twitter at @tranlongmoore. Follow The Saline Post @thesalinepost. Follow The Saline Post on Facebook by clicking here.