By Kayla Chappell
The September meeting of the College Cultural Neighborhood Association (CCNA) primarily focused on city issues, presented by Monica Galloway, Seventh Ward City Council member, and Kate Fields, Fourth Ward City Council member.
Other topics raised at the meeting, attended by about 55 residents, included Legionnaires’ disease and the future of Pierce Park.
Waste contract dispute discussed
Galloway thanked residents for contacting her with concerns about the waste collection contract negotiations, with the city council arguing to keep Republic Services and the Mayor arguing for Rizzo Environmental Services, which she states would save the city $2 million.
Galloway described a meeting Sept. 13 including members of the Mayor’s team along with Councilman Scott Kincaid and Council President Kerry Nelson. Also present at that meeting, she said, was Joyce Parker, an emergency financial manager for the City of Ecorse, who was assigned to mediate between the city council and the mayor’s administration.
“The process hasn’t been as easy and as cooperative as it could be,” Galloway stated, “but on Tuesday what they did realize… is when David Sabuda [the city’s chief financial officer] did the calculations it came up that Republic [Services] is actually the lowest bidder.”
[In a September 26 Town Hall hosted by Mayor Weaver, however, Sabuda presented a different set of calculations that showed Rizzo holding the cost advantage. All parties involved were in a Circuit Court-ordered mediation process behind closed doors as of this writing. At the town hall meeting, Weaver stated as she has from the beginning that it is her duty by law to go with the “lowest responsible bid” and that she strongly believes the numbers show that Rizzo met that criterion over Republic.]
Galloway was then asked about the mayor’s administration and why, according to the questioner, they seem to be so “wedded” to insure the contract goes to Rizzo Environmental Services that the mayor may enact the emergency ordinance of the charter to initiate service with Rizzo.
[Since the CCNA meeting, the mayor terminated Republic’s services as of Sept. 23, but Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah intervened following a request for an injunction from the City Council and put the switch on hold as the two sides were ordered to meet. On Sept. 29 an appeals court overturned Farah again and it now seems the Mayor’s side has won and Rizzo will be the city’s new trash contractor, at least temporarily, though Republic issued a statement stating they believe they are still in contention – Ed.]
Councilwoman Galloway responded, “I would hope that your integrity before the people that you represent would be enough for you to say, you know what, based on the ordinance and the fact that I told this community that I would do what was right… I just hope that Mayor Weaver is surrounded by people that are giving her wise counsel and that she listens to Mr. Sabuda and that she goes along with the ordinance and that hopefully there will be no legal proceedings from here.”
Fields offered news on an initiative to clean up abandoned mobile home parks, specifically mentioning Kirkwood Mobile Park on Averill Avenue and Shady Acres on Western Road. Both shut down after tax foreclosures in 2015 and both were owned by the same entity. The need to take action came to Fields, she said, when she saw that Kirkwood was in the middle of a residential area. “Kids are going in there and there are meth labs and in addition to blight, it’s a safety issue,” she said.
Fields said she discovered there is no funding to demolish trailer parks so she aimed for the trailer parks that the Land Bank controls in hopes of obtaining a grant that could fund the initiative. She stated the C.S. Mott Foundation told the Land Bank to submit an application and she believes the Mott Foundation may be leaning towards funding to demolish the parks.
Two representatives of the Flint Area Community Health and Environment Partnership, a project prompted by the Flint water crisis and being coordinated through Wayne State University, presented information about Legionnaire’s disease and the Legionella bacterium.
Paul Kilgore, from Wayne State’s Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Kettering University professor Benjamin Pauli briefed the group on the nature of the disease and its prevalence in Flint. They said the disease is a kind of pneumonia, contracted by breathing in droplets of water that contain Legionella bacteria. The disease has flu-like symptoms such as high fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chest pains, and diarrhea.
Occurrences of the disease in Flint have spiked during the water crisis. The two presenters said Genesee County had 91 cases of Legionnaires’ disease during the summers of 2014 and 2015 and leading to 12 deaths so far.
The FACHEP team members are studying levels of Legionella bacteria in the water in Genesee County and conducting household samplings. More information about Legionella and Legionnaire’s disease is available from Kilgore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pierce Park changes ahead?
Doug Jones, a College Cultural neighborhood resident, spoke about the now-vacant Pierce Park clubhouse, saying “it seems that the city has taken an interest in Pierce Park with the idea of getting it off of their books——to stop spending money on it.”
Jones asserted the city is making an attempt to “privatize” the park by selling it to a private company but there is no guidance to know what the golf course can become or who can lease it. He stated the city has made a requirement for the request for proposal (RFP) that any use of the facility must also use the 100 acres.
Jones, a retired architect, said “There is no deed restriction on the golf course, 100 acres, but there is a deed restriction on the balance of the park. The park must remain a park.”
Jones said the city is about to announce an RFP for Pierce Park.
The association’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in MCC’s RTC Auditorium.
Staff writer Kayla Chappell can be reached at email@example.com.