The Lowell City Council held a short meeting on Monday, clocking in at about 35 minutes. During that time, they heard from several citizens and then approved plans to study how best to use city infrastructure and land in the coming years.
Citizens Speak Out Against Help Yourself Garden
Continuing a theme from the previous city council meeting, citizen comments were focused on the Help Yourself Garden. While the speakers two weeks ago were predominantly in favor of the garden, almost all were opposed to it last night.
Two neighbors shared their concerns about backlash from the community after they expressed opposition to the garden. “We’ve been criticized; we’ve been ridiculed,” said one neighbor. Another said, “We’ve been shamed on Facebook for worrying about traffic near our home.”
Both reiterated their concern that neighbors were not consulted prior to the creation of the garden. It was also noted that there are other community resources, such as Flat River Outreach Ministries, to help those in need of food.
In a letter read into the record, another citizen suggested the garden could make more of an impact in another location. “How much more amazing would this be in the heart of Lowell?” the person wrote, adding that the library would be an ideal spot for a garden and farm stand.
However, another person had grave concerns about the type of person a community garden could attract. That person, a resident of Pennsylvania and relative of one of the garden’s neighbors, wrote a letter expressing worry that the Help Yourself Garden could bring break-ins, robberies, pedophiles and human trafficking to Grove Street. “[Children] could get hit by a car or abducted,” the person wrote. “We don’t need a tragedy to prove to these people that it’s a bad idea.”
Paula Mierendorf, manager of the Creekside Community Garden, also spoke during the citizen comments portion of Monday’s meeting. “I’ve been out of town for the last few weeks and just today found out there’s been a little excitement about community gardens,” she said. She noted the growing season is just about over and suggested forming a committee or similar group to try to reach a consensus between all parties over the winter. She volunteered to help with the effort.
There was no comment from councilmembers in response to any of the speakers.
Future of Fairgrounds, Water System Considered
There were three points of new business on the agenda for this week’s city council meeting. All three were approved unanimously.
The first was regarding a feasibility study about the use of Recreation Park after the Kent County Youth Fair moves to its new location. At their September meeting, the Downtown Development Authority approved $13,500 to pay engineering firm Williams & Works to conduct the study. Last night, the city council gave its approval as well.
Next was a discussion about the possibility of selling the city’s water and wastewater treatment facilities to an authority. City Manager Mike Burns notes something similar has already been done in other communities and pointed to the North Kent Sewer Authority as an example.
“I truly think this is going to be a high-growth area in the next 10-20 years,” Burns said. As demand for city water and sewer services expand in Lowell and Vergennes Townships, an authority might make more sense than a city-owned utility. The council agreed that Burns should explore the issue further.
Finally, the Lowell City Council unanimously passed a resolution to proclaim September 21, 2018 as Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day.
The next Lowell City Council meeting will be held on October 1, 2018 at 7pm in City Hall.