City Council Recap: N. Washington Property Closer to Becoming Parkland

All councilmembers were present for last night’s Lowell City Council meeting. There were six pieces of business discussed, and one person spoke during the citizen comments portion of the agenda. At the end of open session, councilmembers went into closed session to discuss a legal opinion.

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Public Comment About Lowell Pride

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Josh Langdon of Belding spoke. Langdon is a pastor at Bible Believers Church in Lowell and began his comments by handing out Gospel tracts to the councilmembers. He then noted he had been reviewing a transcript from last month’s meeting, which included a discussion about whether a policy was needed to address profanity on the Riverwalk stage.

“The bias I felt from Mayor DeVore and Leah (Groves) took me by surprise a bit,” Langdon said.

He also mentioned a statement from Councilmember Cliff Yankovich which implied protestors were telling children at the Lowell Pride event that they would be going to hell. “We don’t walk up to kids and tell them you are going to burn in hell because you’re gay,” according to Langdon.

Langdon said he didn’t think the city needed a new policy about profanity on the Riverwalk stage since the city’s ordinances already addressed public obscenity in Sections 13-131 through 13-133. He added that one of the Lowell Pride organizers noted at last month’s meeting that the event’s drag show was geared and marketed toward adults, and Langdon wondered why children were allowed to be present.

After reciting a few Bible verses, Langdon wrapped up his comments by offering a “compromise” for future events. “If you are able to keep children out of the drag queen show, we will preach outside of the event,” he said.

During councilmember comments at the end of the meeting, Groves noted that it was disappointing that Langdon called her out by name but then left before she had a chance to respond to him.

“My allyship to the LGBT+ community does not make me a biased councilmember,” she said. “It makes me a human rights activist. Being an advocate for fair, equal living for all is the very reason I ran for city council.” Groves added that she would do whatever was needed to make sure all residents felt safe in the city.

Next Steps Taken on Washington Street Property

It has been a longtime goal for several councilmembers and residents that city property at 990 N. Washington be preserved as parkland. The city took one step closer to making that happen last night.

Councilmembers unanimously passed a resolution that would include the properties at 846, 848 and 1047 N. Washington in the city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan. 848 is the legal number of the property more commonly known as 990 N. Washington.

In addition, councilmembers unanimously passed a resolution to ask the state to approve annexation of 848 N. Washington. While the city currently owns the property, it is part of Vergennes Township. Once annexed, the property can be added to Scout Park.

Bruce Matthews, speaking on behalf of the Lowell Scout Park Association, thanked councilmembers for their work and said it was “an exercise in civic engagement that we can be proud of.”

Other Meeting Notes

In other action, the council unanimously approved the following:

  • A memorandum of understanding with the Lowell Rotary Club, which is leading the effort to reconstruct Creekside Kingdom. The memo notes that the city will own and maintain the facility while the club will oversee social media related to the project.
  • A request for inclusion of Los Portales in the social district. This is a restaurant that is planning to open at the location formerly occupied by Rio Plano Taqueria.
  • An increase in the meeting stipend for Planning Commissioners. The stipend will increase from $35 per meeting to $45 per meeting to bring it in line with what is provided to Lowell Light & Power Board Members.

Councilmembers also briefly discussed how the city should observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth and Veteran’s Day. It was a matter raised by Groves who noted that the city is inconsistent in how it observes federal holidays. Councilmembers agreed to consider the matter and discuss it further at a future meeting.

During his report, City Manager Mike Burns noted that work was wrapping up on Monroe Street, but there was an issue with water pooling in the city lot. It is believed the contractor laid down too much asphalt, and two leach basins would be added for the winter and then the lot would be repaved next year. This work would all be done at no cost to the city.

Burns also said the city received grant funds for work on Foreman Street that will occur in 2025, and he expects the city’s portion of marijuana excise taxes to be somewhere between $450,000-$513,000 this year.

Councilmembers went into closed session at 7:44pm to discuss “a privileged legal opinion.” They came out of closed session at 8:38pm and adjourned without taking any further action.

The next regular meeting of Lowell City Council will be held on Monday, November 20, at 7pm in Lowell City Hall.

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