Josh Hunter asked Berkley residents what questions they had for City Council candidates. These are the six most liked questions and my answers.
What is your vision for the property where the ice arena once stood?
For now, this area could be used as a community gathering space and for additional green space. Berkley needs more green space.
Do you anticipate supporting another voter tax proposal for a community center or city hall renovation during your term?
The City does need a new community center and City Hall needs renovations however my support will depend on the plans, how much community engagement went into developing any plans, the cost and the ability to properly maintain any new buildings and/or renovations.
Do you think the current Planning Commission is a practical representation of the community?
No. I don’t see the current Planning Commission as representative of the community or having much diversification right now. Diversification offers different opinions, views and perspectives.
Per the Planning Commission ordinance, the board make up is to be representative of the community. I would like to see the Planning Commission more representative of the community especially geographically.
“Members shall be representative of important segments of the community such as the economic, governmental, educational, and social development of the city, in accordance with the major interests as they exist in Berkley such as agriculture, natural resources, recreation, education, public health, government, transportation, industry and commerce. The membership shall also be representative of the entire territory of the City of Berkley to the extent practicable” (Code 1981, § 22-17; Ord. No. O-10-09, § 1, 10-5-2009; Ord. No. O-13-18, § 1, 10-8-2018).
What is your opinion on the DDA, [Downtown] Master Plan and Design Review Board?
I understand the need for the DDA for economic growth and development; to focus money on the downtown and maintenance. If done correctly a downtown district could attract new residents and stakeholders. However, I want to make sure that the DDA is not being subsidized by the residents if the amount of tax revenue the City keeps does not cover the actual costs of City services they receive (i.e. street plowing, sidewalk maintenance, garbage pick-up and public safety).
The Downtown Master Plan needs some work, but this should wait until the City’s Master Plan is completed to make sure there are no conflicts. There are also serious flaws with the methodology of the parking section.
If passed, I worry the Design Review Board will add an extra layer of bureaucracy that could cause delays and additional burden on current and potential business owners.
Do you agree with the DDA Director and DDA being another branch of Government?
The DDA is a separate entity from the City per the State of Michigan statute that lists the DDA’s goals, powers and responsibilities.
Do you think the Downtown Development Authority has made good use of tax dollars captured from the City in the past 5 years? Why or why not?
No. As an example the DDA invested in now decommissioned crosswalks when the money could have been used to finish the wayfinding signs, giving current business owners more funds in façade grants, fixing the poles across 12 Mile so banners could once again promote events, updating the street lights so they all match within the district, placing flowing baskets all along Coolidge and 12 Mile and fixing the sidewalks. They should have started with the basics.