When city hall listens to its citizens

Tribune Staff • Feb 9, 2018 at 11:00 AM

You don't always have to fight your city hall; sometimes city hall listens to its residents and does the right thing.

That appears to be the case in the City of Grand Haven, where the public spoke and City Council went along with their wishes in not expanding the downtown snowmelt system.

The city was considering expanding the system for a small stretch of Harbor Drive in the downtown area. It would expand the sidewalk snowmelt that's been in use for the first three blocks of Washington Avenue for several years to the sidewalks along Harbor between Washington and Franklin avenues.

It would have been done at the same time the city was making improvements to Harbor Drive's infrastructure. That $1.3 million project is on the schedule for later this year.

Expanding snowmelt for such a small area — one city block — was estimated to cost $155,000.

OK, so that's not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but it's just not wanted. So it would be $155,000 down the storm sewer.

"We don't see the benefit for us," Gino Peters, who works in an office at 1 S. Harbor Ave., said at the Feb. 5 City Council hearing for the snowmelt expansion. "We don't see it for us or the general public."

Peters said people who work at the building use the 1 S. Harbor parking lot and the building's lower entrance, and don't enter from the street side of the building, negating the need for snowmelt, the Tribune reported.

"The project's high cost is not something we're willing to absorb for little or no benefit," added Rose Dunlap, who was representing radio station WGHN (which also operates out of 1 S. Harbor) at the council hearing.

So, City Council voted down the snowmelt expansion with a 4-0 vote (Mayor Geri McCaleb was absent from the meeting).

"It sounds good, but I'm going to have to go with what a majority of the people said to us," said Councilman Mike Fritz.

At the same meeting, City Council hosted a public hearing for the proposed burial of utility lines along Harbor Drive, from Columbus Avenue to Howard Street, which would also coincide with the infrastructure project planned for this fall.

The public attending the meeting spoke in favor of the lines being buried, and council will consider approving it, pending on the Board of Light & Power's commitment to help pay for the estimated $844,588 to do it.

Again, it's good to see a governing body listening to its taxpayers and fund projects that are desired and benefit the community. Or, in the case of the snowmelt expansion, not do it.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Mark Brooky, Alex Doty, Josh VanDyke and Duncan MacLean. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to [email protected] or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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