With news that the historic Belle Isle Boat House could face demolition, Detroiters and rowing enthusiasts came out in full force at last week’s Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee meeting to voice their support for the building.
At the Detroit Library Commission meeting, we learned that some commissioners weren’t sure if they have a library card as the library launched a new initiative to sign up 40,000 Detroiters for library cards.
During the Board of Police Commissioners meeting, we heard Deputy Police Chief Franklin Hayes commit to working with community advocates to provide better service for survivors of domestic violence.
The Wayne County Commission met last Thursday and dedicated almost an hour to member statements in support of ending a cycle of violence and bloodshed in the Middle East.
In other meetings, officials discussed changing plans for Chandler Park upgrades, funding for lead prevention efforts, graffiti removal and much more. For the rest of your weekly public meetings digest, read on.
Politics — Detroit
The Detroit City Council delayed making a decision on an almost $14 million contract to build an athletic air dome in Chandler Park. District 4 Councilmember Latisha Johnson said an inflatable air dome is not what the neighborhood needs. All the councilmembers who commented were in support of a brick-and-mortar recreation center in District 4. Detroit Construction and Demolition Department Director LaJuan Counts said the structure is intended to be permanent. The matter was postponed for one week.
Councilmembers approved a $350,000 contract increase for graffiti removal. Detroit Procurement Specialist Jennie Kae Whitfield said removing 10,000 graffiti tags from both public and private buildings depleted the original funds. The contract will allow the project to continue through the end of the contract term in May 2025. Councilmember Angela Whitfield Calloway said running out of money one year into a three-year contract and not recovering the cost of removal from private property owners was wasteful.
10/17/2023 Detroit City Council, Formal Session
Documented by Afua Osei-Bonsu and Amelia Benavides-Colón
Politics — Wayne County
At the Wayne County Commission meeting, some discussion arose after Commissioner Glenn S. Anderson asked for a breakdown of how much each city was receiving to fund lead poisoning prevention.
The Michigan Children’s Health Insurance Program awarded an additional $215,000 to the County Health Fund for lead hazard control. Abdul El-Sayed, director of Wayne County’s Health, Human & Veterans Services, said he would get a report to the commissioners on where that money was going. Exposure to lead can come from consuming particles of lead in plumbing and lead-based paints.
The commission also reappointed Marvin W. Beatty, a member of the Wayne County Airport Authority Board of Directors, to his second term after his first year in office ended with the airport receiving accolades.
10/19/2023 Wayne County Commission, Full Commission
Documented by Amelia Benavides-Colón and Damien Benson
Politics — Highland Park
10/16/2023 Highland Park City Council: DTE Energy is installing 40 miles of new natural gas lines, and inspectors need to access residential meters. Water debt negotiations with the Great Lakes Water Authority continue.
Documented by Colleen Cirocco and Paige Rollins
After the roof caved in on the west side of the building, the beloved Belle Isle Boat House drew Detroiters to participate in Thursday’s Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee meeting. Eager to assuage growing concerns throughout the city about an impending “tear-down” of this historic building (home to the rowing club since the 1800s), committee members assured residents that many possible outcomes would be explored, and that accommodations would be made to keep the rowing club operational.
During the public comments, Detroiters and rowers from across the Great Lakes voiced their strong desire to ensure that the rowing tradition be preserved on Belle Isle, and that demolition be avoided. They said the connection to history and tradition is part of what makes the park so special.
10/19/2023 Michigan Belle Isle Advisory Committee
Documented by Meghan Rutigliano and Paul Enns
10/17/2023 Detroit Public Library, Detroit Library Commission: Commissioners will discuss their evaluations of library Executive Director Jo Anne Mondowney in a closed session on Nov. 20. and vote on the position in a public meeting on Nov. 21.
Documented by Amber Umscheid and Eric McCormick
10/18/2023 Detroit General Retirement System, Board of Trustees: Board agrees to sell Life Assurance Fund for $1.3 million. Annual premiums are $850,000 and rising, with no guarantee of when the investment would pay out.
Documented by A J Johnson and Perry Sylvester
10/19/23 Detroit Board of Police Commissioners: The board sends the issue of two employees suspended in March to the Personnel & Training Committee for resolution.
Documented by Bridget Scallen and Tewonia Alamu
For more on the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, check out the latest BOPC Watch.
Written by Amber Umscheid, Amelia Benavides-Colón, Bridget Scallen and Meghan Rutigliano.