Video: City Council Goal Setting November 15, 2008

November 18, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Video

This is the first of three and possibly four goal setting sessions. The meeting was led by Joe Ohren, Professor of Political Science at Eastern Michigan University.

Council and City Staff first introduced themselves. The discussion turned to what council and staff have for a vision of Ypsilanti and some of the concerns they have for the continued success of the community. There was a wide range of ideas from cleaner streets, involving EMU, transportation, walking to work, vibrant neighborhoods, regional transportation.

Joe Ohren

Bill Nickels (Dem, Ward 2) asked the question would EMU be here in 10 years. Bill said no one would ever think that GM would be considering bankruptcy. Fire Chief Jon Ichesco suggested the city reach out to local property owners as they bring a number of new people to the community each year.

Ichesco is correct, the landlord and property management business is the largest private employer responsible for over 500 full time jobs and is the third largest employer behind EMU and Ypsilanti Public Schools.

Coming back from the break, Peter Rinehart owner of Bombadils Coffee Shop and DDA Chair, who must be standing in for Brian Vosburg DDA Director who was the only department manager not at the meeting, spoke passionately about the positive aspects of Ypsilanti and said that it is easy to make friends if you “Kick a can down the street saying man I hate City Council.”

After several uncomfortable laughs, the rest of the group refocused the discussion on the vision outlined and taped to the wall.

Transportation and the City

Mayor Paul Schreiber (Dem) brought up the issue of regional transportation and funding by the City for bus funding. Brian Robb used that as a launching point to talk about bus funding and transportation planning starting in October 2009.

Mike Bodary (Dem, Ward 2) suggested that AATA should come in and justify their costs, route structure and ridership to demonstrate AATA is providing the best service for the lowest cost.

Joe Ohren was quick to shut down the discussion saying he believed the group ought to not be focusing on the specifics at this meeting and this early.

However, one of the complaints during last years budget process was the decision to fund buses was made in July and August, one month after the budget was approved. So there was no opportunity to discuss the vision and planning for transportation in the City. Mayor Schreiber said in the summer that Council should discuss a vision for transportation at the goal setting session.

So when the discussion turned to buses, Ohren in less than 5 minutes directed the conversation away from any meaningful discussion on transportation.

Ohren then moved on to discuss EMU. Stan Kirton Director Department Public Service (DPS) said he found it humorous when EMU employees that don’t live here call to complain about the condition of roads.

Pete Murdock (Dem, Ward 3) said there were a number of EMU issues including parking and shared resources. Ohren said that EMU President Sue Martin has made it clear to EMU staff that they will work with their counterparts at the City.

Business Development

Council and staff spent nearly 40 minutes talking about the DDA. Including sandwich sign boards, Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA), traffic lights and more. Peter Rinehart advocated City Council to pass an ordinance requiring business to post hours so that he could call ordinance enforcement when a business owner does not post their hours.

Five minutes on bus funding, 45 minutes on DDA and sandwich signs.

There was also no discussion about the other business districts in the city including Ecorse, East Michigan, West Michigan, Harriet, Washtenaw, and Huron River Drive. These other business districts seem to be ignored each year by the Council.

The meeting then broke for lunch. Returning from lunch the conversation was wide ranging.

The conversation included Ypsilanti CoPAC, the myriad of groups, friends, neighborhood associations and boards.

The end of the meeting was the highlight as Planner Richard Murphy outlined a number of areas in local zoning and planning that are keeping business’ from locating in the community.


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