2017-04-17 / Front Page

City grapples with visionary, practical issues at council meeting

By Steven Kovac
810-452-2684 • skovac@mihomepaper.com

BROWN CITY — These are exciting times to be involved in city government.

It might not have seemed so to the two citizens that attended last Monday’s city council meeting, but the council did more than just deal with the mundane nuts and bolts of running a small city for another two weeks. It continued the process of positioning the town to be ready to maximize its full potential in a growing future economy.

Earlier this year, the council voted to authorize City Manager Clint Holmes to begin to pursue state certification of Brown City as a Redevelopment Ready Community.

The RRC program assists communities across Michigan in establishing a solid foundation for future development and in making them more attractive for investments from private sector and governmental sources.

Step one in the process involved sending Holmes through a state-sponsored training course designed to acquaint him with what is called RRC’s Six Best Practices, which include, Community Plans and Public Outreach, Zoning Regulations, Development Review Process, Recruitment and Education, Redevelopment Ready Sites, and Community Prosperity. He completed the second and final phase of the train- ing last week.

In his report to the council, Holmes said, “The next steps include the council passing a resolution formally applying to become a certified RRC; completing the 15-page self- evaluation form; putting in place a Master Plan that includes a downtown plan, corridor plan, zoning plan, capital improvement plan, along with quarterly reports, all to be posted on the city’s website.”

Earlier this year the council voted to update and improve the city’s computer system by contracting with I.T. Right and Munetrix companies in order to, among other benefits, make compliance with RRC’s demands for financial analysis and transparency easier.

Previously, Holmes explained to council that RRC certification will raise the likelihood of the city receiving future grant money from the state, an important factor in light of the Trump administration’s plan to turn over a trillion dollars to the 50 states for infrastructure repair and development.

Council has already begun the process of revising the city’s Master Plan.

Holmes reported last Monday that two bids have been received for the necessary consultative services.

One proposal came from McKenna Associates, which Holmes said did the last Master Plan for the city. McKenna’s bid was $17,500.

Another bid came from Giffels Webster in the amount of between $18,000 and $20,000, depending on certain contingencies.

After discussion, council voted to table the matter until its April 24 meeting in the hopes of receiving a more reasonable proposal.

Holmes also informed council that construction bids for the rebuilding of Lincoln Street are due April 20, in time for a possible awarding of the contract at council’s April 24 meeting.

Holmes reported that the fire hydrant at the corner of George and First streets was hit by a car and is non-operational. Work will be done to repair it as soon as ground conditions permit, and affected residents are to be notified to boil their drinking water after the repair until told by the DPW it was safe.

Holmes also told council that the city has consulted with a licensed arborist about doing an evaluation of the condition of all trees growing in the right of way between the curb and the sidewalk (city property) in front of people’s homes. A priority list recommending needed trimming and/or removal of damaged or unhealthy limbs and trees could be drawn up for $4,500 for a “drive-by tree survey”, or $10,000 for a more detailed examination by address.

Holmes said the city may qualify for a risk reduction grant of up to $5,000 from its insurance carrier to pay for the composition of the priority list.

Council instructed Holmes to draw up a resolution formally applying for the grant for action at its next meeting.

In other business, council voted to install two new stop signs, along with two new stop-ahead warning signs, on north and south bound Lincoln Street at the corner of Grant Street.

• Council also passed a resolution opposing the construction of any nuclear waste repositories in the Great Lakes Basin.

In her report, Mayor Julie Miller told the meeting that the city manager’s evaluation had been compiled, and that Holmes had done a “remarkable job.” She said he scored 1,060 out of a possible 1,155 points or 92 percent, and that council members wished to thank him for the great job he is doing.

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