| 3 min read | from Mayor Shawn Keough |
From Dexter’s Mayor Shawn Keough in his report to City Council at their June 10 meeting:
Hello Residents and Council,
Here is my report of recent activities and my calendar of planned Dexter activities looking ahead:
Update on Phase 2 Mill Creek Park efforts with Dexter Community Schools (similar to last report)
The City has received clearance from the State Historic Preservation Office for the Phase 2 path alignment along Mill Creek behind Forest Lawn Cemetery and through the Dexter Community Schools property. The City has applied for permits to construct the new Phase 2 pathway and is working on an easement agreement with the School Board.
The full proposed alignment has been staked and representatives of the Schools and City walked the portion on School property together on Friday, May 31st. As previously mentioned, the City agreed to split the cost of an appraisal (cost to City of approximately $1,250) to aid in these discussions. The appraisal should be complete on approximately June 6th.
There has been a lot of effort put into working with the School District to bring this project to this point and I would like to note that I appreciate all the City staff time, as well as School staff and Board member time that has been invested to this point. Since the City and Schools meet on the same night, both Boards will be acting simultaneously on the easement agreement. We hope to have final plans, specifications and easement agreements to submit to MDOT for the bid process by June 21st.
Facility Upgrades “the search for input and the right sized solutions continues”
As a follow up to our April 27th Town Hall meeting, City Council is searching for a date to have another public meeting to gather additional input. The input gathered from the April meeting was helpful in that it showed a lot of support for upgrading both our City offices and Fire Station. However, the meeting also illustrated that we need to better define the options for future feedback.
We have received about 25 comments from before the meeting and at the meeting on this subject. On the topic of fire station, only 7 people formally submitting support for moving the fire station to the MAVD property on Dexter Ann Arbor Road. About the same number submitted input that the fire station should stay in the current location. On the topic of City Hall, we received even fewer comments on which to make any decisions.
Council remains very divided on this topic, with some members trying to push forward while others are still trying to gather an understanding of options and the community sentiment.
Recent action: On May 28, 2019, Council voted 4 to 3 to build a new station somewhere in the City limits, but not at 8140 Main Street. The motion also limited efforts to renovate the current site, unless required by the DAFD agreement. Feedback on this topic is always welcome and we are still accepting input if residents or business owners have an opinion to share.
In terms of next steps, on May 13, 2019, City Council voted 6 to 1 (I cast the lone no vote) to review a draft purchase agreement for the MAVD property. This draft agreement will be a discussion item at the June 10th City Council meeting. It is my opinion that the MAVD property should remain on the tax rolls for uses other than a fire station. The owners of the MAVD property have offered the property to the City at approximately $600,000. This land cost could be invested directly into facility upgrades.
Moving the fire station away from its current location doesn’t make sense to me from a response perspective or a cost perspective. The MAVD property is further away from the district and presents many challenges for our firefighters trying to drive through town 800 to 900 times a year as they try to serve Dexter Township to the northwest and Webster Township to the north.
While the issue of increasing the response time was voiced by several people as a concern at the April Town Hall meeting, most members of City Council seem unphased by the idea of increasing response times to most of our district if the station is moved. This bothers me and I plan to continue to raise it as a core issue in future discussions of providing emergency service to our community.
Building a new fire station is currently estimated at $7,000,000 (including the above mentioned $600,000 in land cost) vs. the idea of renovating for approximately half that cost. A new City office is also estimated at between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000, no matter where it would be located.
While all of these estimates are preliminary and based solely on concept plans, the idea that the City should spend in the vicinity of $10,000,000 to improve our facilities is troublesome to me. I believe that there are more efficient ways to accomplish this and would ask residents to submit comments on whether they want to spend this amount of money on two buildings.
Please note that we don’t have this amount of money in the bank, so whatever we do will likely require some sort of tax increase (subject to a vote of the residents). Early projections are that both of these improvements would add approximately 3 mills to City taxes.
I look forward to seeing you around our town.
Shawn Keough, Mayor, City of Dexter
Mayor Keough’s entire report can be found here beginning on page 71.