By Patricia Isenberg
The news and implications of the City of Flint’s changing city council membership and the marathon closed-door and public discussions deciding on Flint’s water source this week didn’t deter about 60 College Cultural Neighborhood Association members from showing up to get updates on water line pipe replacement and a proposal for Pierce Park at Thursday’s monthly meeting.
Vice President Sherry Hayden presided for President Mike Keeler who was unable to attend. Hayden said newly re-elected Ward Seven Councilwoman Monica Galloway was not at the meeting since the council’s water source meeting was still going on in council chambers.
Mark Fisher from Grant Hamady Realty opened the monthly real estate report by saying, “Things are looking good, folks.” Fisher said there’s an unusually low inventory of houses for sale in the College Cultural Neighborhood, down from 20 two months ago to 14 now, and that the price per square foot is up and steady at $44. Fisher also reported the number of distressed homes is very low and the average number of days a house stays on the market is at 65, with mortgage rates down to the high threes for good prospective buyers.
Concerns voiced about water source, pipe replacement
Residents discussed pipe replacement, which has moved into the neighborhood, and whether the city should enter into a 30 year contract for its water source. Hayden mentioned she had attended the public comment portion of the water source meeting this week and feels that the length of the meetings was due to the complexity of the contract and the difficult decision about whether to enter such a long commitment.
Residents offered several back and forth comments about pipe replacement, voicing confusion over who is actually doing the pipe replacements. [Goyette Mechanical Company is one of four primary contractors being used by the city, and has been most evident in the CCN work so far. The other three contractors are Lang Construction, W.T. Stevens, and Waldorf and Sons, Inc. The overall pipe replacement project is described by Harold C. Ford in his August East Village Magazine story here] Residents wanted to know how to get on the replacement list, and exactly what the The City of Flint’s responsibility is for scheduling and cleaning up properties after the work is finished. Most residents who spoke expressed frustration that the city is not coordinating this as they said it should be. One resident on the other hand pointed out her experience has shown that every property has its own set of problems and that is often what holds things up. More information about the pipe replacement program is available here at the city’s FAST Start website.
Proposal for Pierce Park on the table
A proposal from a non-denominational church called The Cathedral for improvements to the now-abandoned Pierce Park Clubhouse and grounds came from Todd and Tara Korpi, who said they had recently moved to the neighborhood. The Korpis displayed a list of what they propose to do for physical improvements to the building and the parking lot, and in what order.
Todd Korpi pointed out that “churches are per square foot probably the most horrifically used real estate throughout the given week versus how much time it’s being occupied.” So they proposed offering the space during the church’s down time for CCN needs. The Korpis said they had done a lot of research and have spoken to city officials. They showed the group a floorplan of the building and offered many suggestions for uses of the space that would benefit the community such as local sports activities, block parties, children’s events, senior gatherings, or euchre tournaments.
After the meeting Hayden said she is concerned that the property has been deteriorating as it sits idle, and that the Korpis are encouraged to seek input from the neighbors on their opinions and concerns for the space.
Advocates for reduced gerrymandering seeking support
Kim Murphy-Kovalick from “Voters Not Politicians” explained gerrymandering and how VNP is working to eventually implement a better system of dividing up the voting districts in Michigan. She said VNP teams are almost through the petitioning process for getting rid of gerrymandering in Michigan. Murphy-Kovalick provided graphics showing how gerrymandering is done and said the result has most-often favored whichever party is already in office disproportionately through computerized division of the districts.
She then explained a way to enlist independent citizens to draw the maps instead of those already in office. The citizen groups would consist of four people from each of the two political parties plus five independents. Those maps would then need to be approved by a group of two from each party and two independents. Petitions were there for anyone who wanted to sign. She also said the group still needs lots of volunteers and more donations to complete the steps required for presenting their proposal to the state for consideration. A resident mentioned Paul Rozycki’s column on gerrymandering, “How to win an election without votes? Gerrymander!” in East Village Magazine, available here.
CCN safety concerns, tips offered
CCNA Neighborhood Watch chairperson Mike Herriman reviewed the neighborhood’s safety patrol system and other ideas to increase security. Starting in October, about 25 CCN residents have hired D.M. Burr to provide security guards and other systems to ensure better safety for the area.
Herriman said the signs put in residents’ yards who’ve signed on are a crime deterrent in itself, but the company also patrols the area with uniformed guards. Contacted after the meeting, Herriman said though armed guards would be available through the company, the 25 neighbors participating in the service so far have opted not to pay the additional rate for armed guards. He said each residence participating brings about a half hour of patrolling per week, or so far, about 12 1/2 hours/week in the area of the addresses covered by the participants.
If paid in advance, the cost for D.M. Burr is $500 per year per address; if paid in advance, $600 a year or $50/month. Herriman said the company will monitor, observe, do what they can in the neighborhood. “My perspective on it is that they want to have documentation showing that somehow they’re reducing the crime rate,” Herriman said. “It’s to their advantage to say they did this. They want to show that they have helped. Their goal is to get out and meet people at every house that signs up with them — that house gets additional benefits.” He said neighbors’ experience so far is that D.M. Burr can come out and check a lot faster than 9-1-1. More information is available from Herriman at 810-232-6751 or from Jim Lincoln at D.M. Burr, 888-533-4600.
Herriman pointed out better lighting on each property also is known to discourage crime. Crime Stoppers was mentioned as an additional route for reporting suspicious incidents. Calls to Crime Stoppers are anonymous and tips sometimes lead to rewards. Hayden provided CrimeStoppers’ contacts as 1-800-422-JAIL or CrimeStoppersOfFlint.com.
EVM Staff Writer Patricia Isenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson contributed to this report. She can be reached at email@example.com.