After months of meetings held via the Zoon videoconferencing platform, Lowell City Council met in-person last night for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most of Michigan. Instead of gathering in City Hall, councilmembers met at the Lowell Fire Department where bay doors were opened on each side of the building and chairs were arranged at a distance from each other.
At the start of the meeting, City Clerk Sue Ullery swore in Christopher Hurst as the new Chief of Police for the Lowell Police Department. Hurst is a longtime member of the department, and his promotion to the top spot was announced last week.
During citizen comments for items not on the agenda, State Representative Lynn Afendoulis introduced herself. She is one of five candidates running on the August ballot for the Republication nomination for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District.
Lowell resident Bill Bledsoe also spoke regarding the recent forced resignation of former Police Chief Steve Bukala. “The chief isn’t necessarily my concern,” he said. “It’s how it got to that point.” Bledsoe expressed concern that city action was in response to pressure from people outside the community, and he encouraged local leaders to support the rights of all residents even if they didn’t agree with them.
Ullery then read two petitions which were submitted to request the resignation of City Manager Mike Burns and Mayor Mike DeVore over their handling of Bukala’s departure from the police force. There were 104 signatures on the petition requesting the resignation of Burns and 102 signatures on the petition requesting the resignation of DeVore. Ullery noted some signatures were illegible and the residence of those signing had not been confirmed.
Meeting Agenda Items
There were only three items on the agenda, and the council moved through them quickly for the remainder of the meeting.
First, councilmembers unanimously agreed to use the remainder of a gift from the estate of Cheryl Staal for the new Showboat, as requested by the estate’s representative. Previously, the council had designated a portion of the money to be used for a memorial bench and to be used for the city’s portion of the cost for a trailway extension through town.
Department of Public Works Director Dan Czarnecki then presented an update on drainage issues that had been previously brought to the council’s attention by a resident. Apparently, water from the Laurels of Kent parking lot was draining onto properties on Donna Drive.
Czarnecki had been in touch with the corporate offices of Laurel Health Care Company. The company has installed a sump pump, yard drains and berms in the drainage area. After discussion with Kent County, it appears upcoming work on the Cherry Creek drain may allow the property’s storm water to divert there.
The final agenda item was a request for a new dump box for a city truck at a cost of $16,678. “We expect to get another 10-15 years out of this truck, and we expect the box to last all that time,” Czarnecki said. The request was unanimously approved.
In his city manager’s report, Burns noted that sections of the Showboat should start arriving on Wednesday. Work on Suffolk and Elizabeth Streets is progressing and will start on Riverside Drive soon. The county is planning a project that will shut down the Division Street bridge for about a month later this summer.
The meeting adjourned at 7:32pm. The next regular meeting of Lowell City Council will be held on Monday, July 20, 2020. The location is not yet known.