Amid construction, Allegan council reviews other goals

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

While the Perrigo Riverfront Plaza project and plans for a new city hall get underway, the Allegan City Council reviewed other goals for 2018 during a pre-session meeting on Monday, Aug. 13.

With a 10-year capital improvement plan completed and a downtown traffic study halfway finished that will be shared with the DDA in September, discussion turned to plans to improve the dog park in Jaycee Park, create a boat access along the Kalamazoo River and switch to a single refuse hauler for the city.

Going to a single refuse hauler was a proposal city manager Joel Dye said would reduce wear and tear on local streets by reducing the number of trucks from two to one; however, he said it was an issue residents were passionate about—the right to choose their own option.

Council member Patrick Morgan asked how a single hauler would help residents. Dye said historically, bills would be cheaper.

“Residents would pay (the hauler) but we would negotiate the contract, which is pooling money for a set amount, guaranteed business and economy of scale,” he said.

The city previously had three refuse haulers but now has two after Republic bought out Chef Container. Arrowaste is the other hauler.

Council members asked for more information on costs, recycling, hauling large items, bin sizes and whether a multi-year contract would be required.

The dog park in Jaycee Park recently received a new bench and shade tree. Mayor pro-tem Rachel McKenzie said since the tree is still too small to provide shade, a shade structure was suggested along with a water feature for dogs to cool off in and a hose to rinse off when the park gets muddy.

City manager Joel Dye said the items could be added to the parks plan next year.

A public boat access on the river did not get strong support from the council since a large area would be needed for boat trailers. Factors included the fire department already designating Jaycee Park as an emergency boat access, high cliffs in much of the city, a strong current in the Mill District and the impasse of a dam. It was also noted a kayak launch has already been approved for Jaycee Park.

A plan for the future use of the city-owned Brady and State Street lot between Mahan Park and the iron bridge was being reviewed as part of a Michigan Municipal League evaluation of parcels to be developed.  Fifteen MML representatives met with the DDA and other city committee members for a community meeting on Aug. 14. The evaluation will be completed in November.

The new brush and leaf program reduced to only spring and fall pick ups was reported a success by DPW employees who were able to tackle other issues during the summer; however, council member Nancy Ingalsbee said people, such as seniors, who could not haul brush to the DPW department in the off months were not happy. The brush pick up for October through the end of November will be announced again in upcoming water bills.

Plans to upgrade the Marilla Lounge at Griswold Auditorium were put on hold until after the new city hall is developed. Dye said since council meetings will be moved to the new city hall, the lounge will serve a new purpose.

A conceptual plan for a downtown streetscape by Abonmarch will be presented in November and a non-motorized plan is an ongoing discussion with bicycle enthusiasts.

Other plans, including improved gateways and a street and pedestrian lighting plan had no action yet.

During the regular meeting around a dozen people wearing purple T-shirts saying “America needs union jobs #WeRise” were in attendance but remained silent. Representing the Service Employees International Union, its labor relations specialist said they could talk after mediations on Aug. 22.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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