City Council Covers a Variety of Topics During Monday Meeting

Prior to last night’s City Council meeting, a Committee of the Whole meeting took place to discuss the use of Cascade Inspection Services for issuing permits and doing away with retiree healthcare.  The agenda for the City Council meeting was full, but to the point. Items were presented and passed in an easy manner in a meeting lasting just over 45 minutes and attended by approximately 20 members of the public not providing information on an agenda item.

National High School Radio Day
During comments from citizens for items not on the agenda, Al Eckman spoke of National High School Radio Day happening on Wednesday, April 25.  WRWW, the Lowell High School radio station will be broadcasting from 7:30am – 2:30pm.  Eckman, the faculty advisor for the station, mentioned anyone interested in coming to learn how the station works is invited to stop by.  There are approximately 180 high school radio stations in the nation. WRWW is one of three in Michigan.

City Work Schedule
At the previous City Council meeting, there was discussion about city workers having a compressed work schedule to allow for shortened availability on Fridays.  City Manager Mike Burns indicated after hearing comments and further research, staff at City Hall would keep their current schedule. He did say he would like to have the Department of Public Works staff work four 10-hour days and have Friday off from after Memorial Day through October.  There was no objection from City Council members.

During their last board meeting, Lowell Light & Power discussed having linemen work the same schedule as DPW.  LL&P office staff would not make a change in their schedule.

Broadway Street Discussion
During a recent meeting, the Downtown Development Authority approved funds for a project which would mill and overlay N. Broadway from Main Street to Riverside Drive.  City Council approved the work, which will be completed in conjunction with the S. Broadway project, to be completed by June 30, 2018.  Included in the finished project will be re-striping of parking spots and making curbs ADA compliant.

South Broadway was also discussed once again.  Brian Vilmont of Prein & Newhoff issued some clarification regarding decisions on how to reconstruct the area after the sewer and water line project is complete.  A portion of the road will be gravel rather than repaved. King Milling is still working on a site plan for the area and the thought process was to do minimal work to pave the area, leaving that portion of the project to the business.

However, Councilmembers Chambers and Canfield raised concerns about a lack of sidewalk from Ottawa toward Recreation Park.  “It comes down to a safety issue.” said Chambers. The concern is not having a designated spot for people to walk, in an area busy with the fair and various festivals, is not safe when large trucks are coming into and leaving the King Milling facility.  

It was determined that sidewalks should be added to the project from Ottawa toward the park area as a means of keeping pedestrians safe.

Upgrade Approvals
A computer server upgrade was approved during the meeting.  Adorio Technologies will work on upgrading the City’s current server at a cost not to exceed $21,173.00.

Brian VanVeelen was also present, representing the Water Treatment Plant.  City Council approved an upgrade to the plant’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) technology.  This allows for monitoring and data to go on at the plant. Cell phone alerts are available in the event a problem occurs, more monitoring is offered, and the company awarded the contract to update SCADA is also local.  

New FBO, Comprehensive Tree Plan, and Fire Authority Building Agreement
Casey Brown, the manager of Lowell City Airport was in attendance asking for approval to enter into an agreement with Midwest Aviation to serve as the fixed based operator (FBO).  The FBO serves as mechanic, offers fuel, inspections, and other services. Nearby airports, including Sparta, Greenville, and Lakeview, are currently unable to offer much, if any, mechanical services.  Brown stated in a memo to Mike Burns, “Lowell will become the primary destination for the tenants of these adjacent airports to have aircraft service completed.” Midwest Aviation will also offer flight lessons out of the Lowell Airport.  The company will also help generate revenue through monthly rental of an existing hangar. Approval was uninanimous.

Approval of the 2018 – 2019 Comprehensive Tree Plan was also passed.  This lays out plans from the Arbor Board for the upcoming year for planting of trees, maintenance of existing vegatation.

Finally, the Fire Authority and City of Lowell entered into an agreement in which upkeep and maintenance of the fire station would be the responsibility of the authority.  The City will share any expense incurred in connection with the driveway in which DPW has shared use in order to access their site.

City Manager Report
Mike Burns has spent most of the last few weeks working on the budget.  A proposed budget is available online at the City’s webpage for review by the public.  There will be an all day review and discussion of the budget on Saturday, April 28 beginning at 10am at the Lowell Light & Power building.  It is anticipated the final budget will be approved during a City Council meeting in May.

Finally, Burns concluded with information he received during discussion he had with the USDA regarding a possible infestation of the Asian Longhorn Beetle.  Similar to the Emerald Ash Borer, these beetles make their way into trees. They prefer maple trees, according to the information Burns received, but will also seek out other trees such as oaks.  These insects have not yet made their way to Michigan, but there is a strong possibility they could be seen later this year. Information regarding what signs to look for will be passed on to the Lowell Area Recreation Authority, Parks and Recreation Board, and DPW.

Meeting Information
The next City Council meeting will take place in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall on Monday, May 7 at 7pm.  Meeting minutes and agendas can be found on the city’s website.  And meetings can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel.  Or check in with Lowell’s First Look after each meeting for a recap of what happened.

You can also listen to meetings live at WRWW the, Lowell High School’s radio station.  Tune in at 92.3.

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