City Council Recap: Updates on Fairgrounds, Creekside Kingdom

Lowell City Council met Monday, Aug. 21, with all members present.

One of the first people to speak at the meeting was citizen Perry Beachum who requested an update on Recreation Park now that the Kent County Youth Fair is held elsewhere. Prior to the move, Recreation Park served as the fairgrounds for decades.

Lowell City Manager Mike Burns answered that the barns are going to be removed by the end of the year, but the King Memorial Youth Center building will remain. The city is looking at grading the ground and adding athletic fields.

Earlier this year, Lowell Rotary Club approached the council to request permission to replace the Creekside Kingdom playground in the city’s Creekside Park. The playground is considered to be at the end of its lifespan. Councilmembers agreed it was due for an update, and they gave their OK for Rotarians to raise money for its replacement.

On Monday, the Council approved Leathers & Associates to design the new playground at a cost of $62,060. This is the same firm that assisted with the design of the current Creekside Kingdom. The process of creating a new playground will involve five phases, and construction will not move forward into each new phase until funds for that phase have been raised.

The Council also approved a slew of new business proposals.

  • A bid from RG Enterprises for $38,800 was approved for repairs to the City Hall roof.
  • Sept. 15, 2023 will be declared Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Day in Lowell to commemorate the thousands of service people who were prisoners or missing during the Vietnam War.
  • An easement agreement was reached with property owners at 500 S. Hudson for a proposed trail project.
  • The Board of Lowell Light & Power requested an updated 457 Participation Agreement, the MERS 457 Employer Contribution Addendum, and the Customized Definition of Compensation Addendum
  • A three-month trial of an alternate staff schedule for City Hall was agreed upon. From Oct. 2 – Dec. 31, 2023, staff hours will be 7:30 am – 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday. The building will be closed on Fridays.
  • Michigan Paving will address eroded pavement on Hillside Court with costs not to exceed $9,691.50.

In the City Manager’s report, Burns brought up the possibility of installing temporary and portable speed bumps in the community. He said he is in the research phase and will consult with the police and fire departments and bring more information to a later meeting. He did not specify where the speed bumps would be placed.

At the end of the meeting, Councilmember Marty Chambers said he was informed that Lowell Township would like to create an authority for the wastewater treatment plant, and he asked Burns for his thoughts. An authority is an entity that would allow the township and city to jointly own and manage the facility, similar to how the Lowell Area Fire Department is overseen.

Burns said it was brought to his attention that there may be state funding for a wastewater treatment facility at I-96 and Alden Nash. He said Lowell Township Supervisor Jerry Hale said he would like the city to create an authority as the best way to move the project forward.

Chambers said he doesn’t understand why this would be so.

“We agreed as a Board not to do the water treatment (authority)… they’re trying to use that to…”

“Get funding under false pretenses?” Lowell Mayor Mike DeVore finished Chamber’s sentence.

DeVore continued, “If you’re giving people false hope, and I’m not saying that’s what they’re doing, I’m saying if that’s what they’re doing, and then we get funding, based on this authority, and then that doesn’t happen, how much is everybody out?”

“I wouldn’t be out there selling a product that doesn’t exist to people to get start-up money,” DeVore said. “I’m not any more interested in giving authority control for the wastewater plant than I am for the water treatment plant.”

Burns suggested the city attorney draft a letter to the township to clarify the council’s stance on the wastewater authority issue.

The meeting adjourned around 8:15pm. The next regular meeting of Lowell City Council will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 7pm at Lowell City Hall.

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