City Council Recap: Splash Pad Closer to Reality

Resident Gary Dietzel addresses Lowell City Council.

Lowell City Council met for just more than 30 minutes on Monday night for their first regular meeting of April. All councilmembers were present, and City Manager Mike Burns joined via the phone. Two people spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting, and five pieces of new business were discussed.

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City and Township Working to Build Splash Pad

One piece of new business was a request by Mayor Mike DeVore for the city to draft a letter of intent to help pay for the construction of a splash pad by the North Grand River Riverfront Park in Lowell Charter Township. This park is located off Bowes Road near the Main Street intersection and is already home to pickleball courts, trails and Corner Stop Ice Cream.

“[A] municipal pool is not a viable option for most communities our size,” DeVore said. However, a splash pad is a more affordable option.

DeVore said he had been working with Lowell Charter Township Supervisor Jerry Hale for several years to scout locations and raise money. Several locations in the city were considered but were not viable because of the presence of underground electrical wires.

The project needs approximately $75,000 more, and grants are being pursued to cover that cost. But if a grant could not be secured, DeVore and Hale were each asking their municipality to cover $37,500 of the cost.

Councilmember Jim Salzwedel asked if they knew that a splash pad is what the community wanted. DeVore replied that it was the very first thing people suggested after hearing a pool was not possible.

“They are cool. The kids love them,” said Councilmember Cliff Yankovich. “I think it would be $37,500 well spent.”

By consensus, councilmembers agreed that DeVore could draft a letter of intent stating that the city would cover that amount if needed. It was not stated whether the splash pad maintenance would be the responsibility of the township or whether the city would have any ongoing costs associated with its operation.

“We’re planning to be building in 2023 and spraying water soon after,” DeVore said.

Citizen Comments: 990 N. Washington and Candidate Introduction

Christine Barnes introduces herself to Lowell City Council.

During the citizen comments portion of the meeting, resident Gary Dietzel approached the podium to ask to be put on the agenda for a future meeting. Dietzel and Sandra Bartlett have lived at city-owned property at 990 N. Washington Street since 1979.

In 2020, the couple was given a 24-month lease while councilmembers decided what to do with the property. Earlier this year, they decided against extending the lease again.

Dietzel said he was having difficulty finding another place to live in Lowell. He noted that the couple has family and jobs in the community. He requested an extension to give him more time to find new housing and pack up and move. He also requested that his rent be waived in the meantime and suggested that Habitat for Humanity be contacted to salvage material from the home should the property be sold and demolished after he and Bartlett leave.

Christine Barnes was the other person to speak during the citizen comments portion of the night. Barnes is running for the Republican nomination for the 78th District seat in the Michigan House of Representative. The new state redistricting maps place the City of Lowell in the 78th District.

After introducing herself and discussing her background, Barnes said she would be available to answer any questions after the meeting.

Other Meeting Action Items

Lowell councilmembers also voted unanimously in support of the following items:

  • Purchase of a new police cruiser at a cost of $54,587. In presenting the request, Police Chief Chris Hurst said the new vehicle – like the last cruiser purchased – would be a hybrid. He noted the department is getting 19.1 miles per gallon with their hybrid vehicle compared to 9.3 miles per gallon with their traditional gas vehicles. The cost of the new vehicle will be paid from the city’s stimulus funds.
  • Installation of new pumps at the northwest station at a cost of $30,000. The pumps are required by the state so the city can better meet increased demand from water customers in Lowell Charter Township. Department of Public Works Director Dan Czarnecki said it was hoped to get the pumps installed before people turned on their irrigation systems this spring.
  • Replacement of water pipes on W. Main St. at a cost of $6,566. The city became aware that a property in the 800 block had galvanized pipes, and the state requires cities to replace the service line to the property to avoid any possible lead contamination.
  • Creation of surplus division for Lowell Light & Power. This will facilitate the utility making additional payments toward its unfunded pension liabilities.

City Manager and Councilmember Comments

During his city manager’s report, Burns congratulated Gordy Lauren on his promotion to sergeant in the Lowell Police Department and Aubrey Culver for her move from a part-time to full-time officer.

Burns also shared that the city received $282,000 in marijuana taxes from the state, which is far in excess of the $100,000 budgeted. All the money has been transferred to the city’s local streets fund.

In their final comments of the night, councilmembers noted that the past weekend’s Lowell Expo and community breakfast at the fire station were both successful events. DeVore also suggested residents try Ripple, a new restaurant that just opened in the historic downtown.

The meeting adjourned at 7:33pm, and the next regular meeting of Lowell City Council will take place on Monday, April 18, at 7pm in Lowell City Hall.

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