Salted with Sharks

Council Meeting Report: Get It in Writing

In Politics on January 24, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Meeting date: January 20, 2011, 7 PM

The Alert aims to report as thoroughly and accurately as possible on Village meetings; however, we usually have just one reporter per meeting, and some topics may be missed or misconstrued. Please submit any corrections to elberta.alert@gmail.com, or simply comment on the blog. We value your input! Official minutes of the Village Council meetings are to be posted on the Village of Elberta website. That page is currently under construction, but look for current and archived minutes to appear soon.

Arthur Melendez, on behalf of the Elberta Arts Council, proposed a sculpture/art walk to be located along the waterfront on Old M-168. One council member voiced excitement about the idea, the others sounded receptive. Those present at the meeting were still unsure when M-168 and the associated property will finally be under Village jurisdiction.

Total expenses due from the Village for the month of December 2010 were $38,680.98. The council voted to pay this amount.

Ken Holmes, of the Water/Sewer/BLUA Committee, reported that everything was in order and going well.

The Parks and Rec Committee raised concerns about boardmember absenteeism at Council meetings.

Carl Noffsinger commented that Elberta is definitely on the map as far as investment and development. He said the for-sale and foreclosure signs about town are stirring up interest from investors. He said Elberta is “not on the back burner.”

New street signs have arrived to rename the former George M Street. George M Street will now be known as Cartwright Street. George M Street honored George M. Cartwright, one of Elberta’s founding fathers. The problem was that residents of George M Street were getting mail intended for residents of George McManus Street, and vice versa. Ken Bonney will install the signs once they are approved.

The Council addressed a concern raised by Carolee Ness about posting part-time positions. Village President Reg Manville said he checked official Michigan governing regulations and found that the Council is not required to post these positions.

Each Council member was asked to research and determine their “philosophical” position on windpower before the next regular meeting. Apparently some windpower developers are interested in our area. Council members were specifically asked not to research individual companies or types of development but just generally how they feel about wind development in the area.

The Council has met with the budget committee, consisting of Reg Manville, Laura Manville, Linda Manville, and Sharyn Bower. They are expecting to produce a budget proposal before the next meeting, and it will be brought to a vote then.

Repairs/renovations to the Elberta Library were discussed. No conclusions were reached on what’s to be done.

Reg Manville discussed the chain of command as far as employee relations. If there are issues with an employee of the Village, the issues should be first brought to the attention of the head of the council (that is, to Mr. Manville). If the problem continues, the president will go before the Village Employee Committee. If the problem continues after that, it will be brought before the whole Council. Mr. Manville stated he did not want individuals directly confronting employees about the employees’ work or work performance. He noted there have been some “micromanaging issues in the past” and said he wants to avoid that in the future.

Village Master Plan/Planning and Zoning Committee meetings will be held on the first Friday of every month at 8 AM. The next meeting will be February 4. The Council wants to have a public forum to discuss the master plan. This public forum meeting will take place on Monday, February 21, exact time and location to be determined.

Ken Holmes reminded Connie Manke, a new member of the Planning Committee, that meetings must be posted at the post office.

The following notes are in regard to the sewer work and “first right of refusal (ROR)” issues involving developer Scott Gest and the previous Council. Most of the Alert reporter’s notes are incomprehensible, he says, because he “didn’t know what the heck they were talking about.” It seems he was not entirely alone in this, as the matters were ultimately tabled till next month’s meeting to give the new Council members a chance to get up to speed on the issues. To wit:

• a $10,000 payment will be made to Village. The Village must determine how they want the payment, either up front or toward the $60,000 the Village owes Scott Gest for improvements made to the Lifesaving Station. The $10,000 payment has to do with the “right of refusal” involving sale of land on the Koch Industries site. Michigan Department of Transportation granted the Village ROR on sale of the land owned by Koch. Koch Industries made a counterclaim to the land. MDOT then determined Koch’s claim was valid. The original grant of ROR to the Village may have been on skaky legal ground. In 2005, the Village negotiated with MDOT to get $10,000 as compensation for the loss of the ROR.

• $2,134 in related legal fees will be paid by Scott Gest’s Elberta Landholding Company.

• Scott Gest’s company has a bill for $5,000 for sewer work done by an engineering firm. He said he felt he was being overcharged and that the work had not actually been completed. He said he consulted with other engineers and determined the bill should only be about $1,500 for the actual work done. The Council has already paid the $5,000 to the engineering company and billed Elberta Landholding. Reg Manville remarked that the Village is having a tough time financially. Gest remarked that he has the good of the Village in mind and pointed out that he wrote a grant for the M-168 streetscaping. It was agreed that Mr. Manville would go with Mr. Gest to talk to the engineering company about the cost.

Reg Manville stated that a “line will be drawn in the sand,” and that all future Village dealings with local businesses and contractors will be done in writing, with no more “verbal agreements.”

Jennifer Wilkins presented a proposal for the Winter W“h”ine, a little festival of wine, local food, and music to be held after the Frankfort Shiver by the River on Saturday, February 19. The Council moved and voted in favor of granting use of the Lifesaving Station to Parks and Rec for the event. It had been remarked earlier in the meeting that two big doors at the Lifesaving Station need to be repaired ASAP before the Winter W“h”ine event. Vendors at the W“h”ine will pay a $50 fee for their booth/table, from which they will sell wine and food. Parks and Rec will pay a rental fee of $500 to the Village for use of the Lifesaving Station.

Parks and Rec and Ken Bonney were encouraged to work together to coordinate de-winterizing and re-winterizing of the building.

The Council voiced excitement about this year’s W“h”ine and expressed hopes that it would be an annual event, perhaps as “big a deal” as the Solstice Festival. Reg Manville remarked that these kinds of activities are important if Elberta is going to gear towards a resort and tourist-oriented economy. Ψ

[Subsequent to the Council meeting, Bill Soper and Ross Thorsen of the Buildings Committee determined that it will cost a lot of money to de-winterize the Lifesaving Station, and alternative locations are being considered for the Winter W“h”ine.—Ed.]

  1. Why does the Parks and Recreation Committee have to pay a fee for the use of the Lifesaving Station?

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