|SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
AND THE NOVI SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1995 - 8:30 PM EST
COUNCIL CHAMBERS - NOVI CIVIC CENTER - 45175 TEN MILE ROAD
The meeting was called to order at 8:30 P.M. with Mayor McLallen presiding.
CITY COUNCIL: Mayor McLallen (Present), Mayor ProTem Crawford (Present), Council Members Cassis (Present), Clark (Present), Mitzel (Present), Mutch (Present), Schmid (Present),
SCHOOL BOARD: President Foreback (Present), Vice-President Streit (Present), Board Members Abrams (Present), Byers (Present), Elfring (Present), Kortlandt (Present), Newton (Present)
Quorums present, the meeting was in session.
ALSO PRESENT: Edward F. Kriewall - City Manager
Tonni Bartholomew - City Clerk
Dr. Emmett Lippe - Superintendent of Novi Schools Dr. Rita Traynor - Assistant Superintendent for the
Office of Instruction
ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Fuerst Property and Buildings.
Mayor McLallen explained the Agenda that evening consisted of three areas that they have mutual concerns. She said the first and probably the one that the community at large has asked about was the issue of the Fuerst Property and Buildings. She explained approximately six months ago, a lease was acquired by the City for approximately six months to buy time to decide what they could do with the property and during that time, the Preservation Novi Group completed a study of the buildings and had some preliminary cost estimates of stabilizing the buildings and also some suggestions for taking the buildings further, but at this time the deadline was looming as to whether the property would revert to the School Board and the issue would be closed, or whether there was some mutual program that they could follow together.
Mayor McLallen said involved in this was the aspect that the City was also negotiating with the School Board to jointly acquire some property in the Eleven Mile Road area for a future school site and a future park site and that has become tied to this issue also.
Mayor McLallen said the bottom line issue was there was a lot of support for the historic preservation of these buildings and the other shoe that always drops, was who has the funds and that appears to be the largest stumbling block that they have not found a definitive answer.
Mayor McLallen said there are possibilities and there are suggestions but no one has found the Brinks Truck to say, "Bring the renovators in, turn it into civic buildings that can be used by all sides."
Mayor McLallen said she would ask for discussion that night from Dr. Lippe and also Councilwoman Mutch. She indicated they all went with Mr. Steve Meyer to a Japanese function and as they were riding in the car, they had an interesting proposal that was new and she would like them to go through that scenario and then ask for everyoneís thoughts.
Mayor McLallen said the big issue was the City has an option on five acres and the total package she believed was eight acres and the City was negotiating said land at Eleven Mile and how to put this in at Eleven Mile
Dr. Lippe said he has shared some ideas with the members of the School Board. He said he didnít know if it was the proper time to share those ideas, but he would be glad to do so if they wish. He felt it might be appropriate to see whether they would like to have him express that or whether they would like to see what progress, if any, has been made in terms of what the Committee was looking at on behalf of the City.
Councilman Crawford said the Committee was to have reported back last week but that didnít happen.
Mayor McLallen said yes it was on the Agenda at the last City Council meeting to have a discussion and members of Preservation Novi were present that evening and she would ask Mr. Antosiak or Mrs. Mutch if they would like to discuss that matter. She indicated there was a published report and at that point, she didnít think, other than reaffirming what was in the report, that there was any new information
Mayor McLallen said the missing piece of information was how to fund what was in the report.
Councilwoman Mutch stated if she remembered correctly at the last Council meeting before the Election, Preservation Novi was prepared to make a presentation at Councilís request. She said that presentation was not made because a member of Council who was no longer on the Council asked that that discussion be held off until after the Election.
Councilwoman Mutch said it was Preservation Noviís understanding that the only purpose for that presentation was to provide additional information to those Council Members who did not feel they were at the point of making a decision to move forward in terms of negotiating the acquisition of the property from the School Board.
Councilwoman Mutch said she didnít know what the procedure would be, but at this time, she felt what the School Board might be looking for was a commitment from the City Council, in other words, whether the City Council as a group under its current configuration was prepared to commit to negotiating for the acquisition and the eventual development of that property.
President Foreback said he thought the other issue was in the Resolution that the School Board passed back in June, which was there was also a provision that were the property to come back, would the lease expire with no action taken and the buildings that were not needed would be raised and that would take action on the part of the School Board. He said this was a different Board now than the original that passed the Resolution to even grant an extension.
Councilman Mitzel asked if a motion would be in order and Mayor McLallen said yes.
Moved by Councilman Mitzel
Seconded by Councilwoman Cassis
That the City Council direct the City Administration to enter into active negotiation with the School Board for acquisition of the five acre corner parcel, with the possibility of a land exchange, and to complete this within the time frame set with the lease agreement that the School Board and the City Council entered into this summer.
Councilman Mitzel said he made that motion because he believed they were at the point where the City has received much information and there were still uncertainties with what the use of the buildings would be and how much it may cost to renovate them or to bring them up to a future use. He said the way he looked at it was the worst that can happen was that the City acquires the site, then the City has to tear down the buildings in the future, which he believed the demolition costs were not that high and then it could always be used for park lands or added to the library site and that would be the worse case scenario.
Councilman Mitzel said an optimistic scenario was that the City acquires the site and is successful in renovating or restoring those buildings as a historical park area for community use and that was what he would hope would happen, but until the City makes a commitment to acquire that property, nothing was going to happen and the longer they wait, the worse condition those buildings get. He would hope that the Council would support this motion so it could move forward.
Councilman Schmid stated to Councilman Mitzel that he paints a positive picture. He said number one, he was talking about five acres and he asked the five acres eliminates how many of the buildings and Councilman Mitzel replied it eliminated two of the barns, he believed.
Councilman Schmid said he would like to have more clarification as to what the intention of the School Board was and he knows at the last meetings they sat at, there was no negotiations as to the saving of those two barns or the property that goes by. He asked if there has been any change in that direction or not.
Mr. Byers explained part of the discussion they had during that meeting was what was the need of the School District for the additional land and that has been explained as additional egress/ingress for the property as the high school expands. He said he thought also that Board Member Hitchcock said they would be more than willing, over the next five to eight years or whatever period of time that the land would sit undeveloped by the School District for the City or whatever entity that is then managing that property, to take those barns and relocate them, or do anything with them they wanted to do.
Mr. Byers also said in the ensuing period, the Board of Education could take a long hard look at their property needs and see how much of the remaining acreage they really need and how it can be divided up to the benefit of both the School District and the City, so he felt the remaining three plus acres is very much an open issue over time. He said there certainly were no plans on the part of the School Board to destroy or tear down the three barns on the southern part of the property because they presently have equipment stored in those buildings and they donít have a location to move the equipment out of at this time. He said they also are probably the three buildings on the property that they consider to be in the best shape at this time.
Councilman Schmid asked at some point in time, the Board may decide not to use the property and was that what he was saying.
Mr. Byers explained he felt there could be some configuration with the property. He said at some point in time, at least one or two of the barns were going to be in jeopardy just because of their location and they were the two southern-most barns, but other than that, there was room for anything they wanted to do. He said if they look at the property immediately to the west and north of the high school, they used subdivision basements to fill in ground and turn it into soccer fields and that has pretty much been dedicated, although it was school property like many of their facilities and hopefully the facility, when they get to talk about the Eleven Mile property, would be co-managed by both the School District and the City for the benefit of the citizens.
Councilman Schmid said his final statement was that he has always been concerned and continued to be concerned and although he suspected the Committee has done some work to try and find funds, they have not found any funds as yet because as far as he knows, there were no reports of any funds and he was talking about restoring the buildings. He said it would take a certain amount of money to just bring them up to a safe condition and not be a liability to the City and if someone could tell him how they were going to do that before they make a commitment to buy the building, he would be a lot more interested in trying to get the property.
Councilwoman Mutch said she felt the report from the architect and the engineers make it clear that regarding the buildings of the School District, they were willing to leave them standing if the property remains under their control, and they were in such a stabilized condition that there really wouldnít be that much to do to maintain them for the period of time that it might take to raise the funds to renovate or readapt.
Councilman Schmid said his question remains Preservation Novi says raise the funds, and he asked where were the funds going to come from and Councilwoman Mutch said this was something she thought that Preservation Novi had presented both in written form and verbally to the Council at least three times.
Councilman Schmid said to Councilwoman Mutch if she would read her reports, there was absolutely nowhere in those reports that suggest where they were going to get the funds other than they were going to apply for some grants which hasnít happened, and there could be some community activities which he understood could happen, but there really is no specific objective criteria to raise the funds.
Councilwoman Mutch felt that Councilman Mitzel has pointed out that there were limitations on what someone outside of the Council or the School Board could do in that regard and Preservation Novi, she believed, has gone just about as far as an independent private organization can, in trying to secure funding that would not come to Preservation Novi, would not be under the control of Preservation Novi, would not benefit Preservation Novi, and would be applied to property not owned by Preservation Novi. She said all of that would be under the control of the City and the City was in a much better position to go after not only private funding, through private sources, but also government funds, which were available and they have given on several occasions, reports on similar projects and how they were funded in other communities, particularly Oakland County communities.
Councilwoman Cassis said it seems to her that up until recently there was a certain degree of uncertainty as to how this land would pass to the City, if indeed it would, and if there was that situation of it being in limbo, it was hard to go out and start any kind of a campaign either through public grant monies, seeking public grant monies, or through a public/private partnership type of arrangement within the City. She said they have a very energetic group in Preservation Novi that she felt really was ready to begin to look forward to opportunities to find ways of reaching out to the larger community, both in the School District and within the community at large for funding purposes as well as grant monies.
Councilwoman Cassis felt that could be a very exciting challenge, but first they have to be sure that the land was in some form of control because the School District, as was her understanding, really did want it to be made into a contractual situation, whereby it would pass to the City, so they have a golden opportunity here, a win-win situation, that might benefit everyone, but until something happens, she felt with the transfer of the property, it was very hard to go forward.
Councilwoman Cassis said they were at that juncture to make it a little more concrete and she asked if she was reading some of the thoughts that have been on the minds of Preservation Novi and other individuals in the community at this point.
Mayor McLallen felt that was the key to the whole project, establishing the direct ownership of the property, which brings her to a question for everyone. She said one of the options for this approximate five acres was the preliminary accessed value of the property, which was approximately $200,000 and if the City found $200,000, it could be a cash purchase she presumed. She said the other option that has been discussed was incorporating this five acres in a direct swap for five acres at Eleven Mile. She said there were pros and cons of both of those approaches, and there was a memo she hoped everyone had from Councilman Mitzel laying out all of the scenarios and the swap would enable the actual ownership to be established on this particular property, which would be positive for the City and Preservation Novi and the swap would enable no new cash to be sought and that would be positive.
Mayor McLallen said in order to move forward with Councilman Mitzelís motion, she felt the actual mechanics of the transaction have to be addressed.
Councilwoman Mutch said she had one more comment with regard to Councilman Schmidís question, and it had been proposed so long ago that it has been probably forgotten, but when Mr. Pope who was a member of the Preservation Novi Board was still on Council, this could ultimately be taken to the voters as part of a bond or ballot question in terms of long-range large scale funding if that became necessary, and Preservation Novi has maintained all along that there was community support for this and as they all know, a ballot issue will tell them right away whether they have community support or not where it counts.
Councilwoman Mutch said Preservation Novi was confident that there would be that kind of support and if a ballot issue were to fail, they would let it rest at that point.
Councilman Schmid said he has always been in favor of acquiring this property, but he wanted the Council to know very clearly, as one who has some property and not in the City, where there were some buildings on it, he realized how fast they deteriorate and how much maintenance it takes just to keep them so that they donít totally deteriorate. He said just for the Council w ho has their eyes wide open, two days after they would buy this property, they could be spending some money on it to keep it in the state that would keep it from being a liability. He said that was all he was trying to point out and someone should know whether they were going to get money and he didnít think Mr. Kriewall has any hidden money that he could come forward with and say they are going to spend even $2,000 to bring the buildings up to a stable condition and that was his only point. He stated he would like to hear someoneís suggestion as to where that reasoning was going to come from and if that was not possible, that was fine, but he felt clarification was needed.
Councilman Mitzel then clarified his motion and indicated it was to acquire property through the swap, not a direct purchase, and he added if the Administration could not work that out, they could bring in an alternative, but he would propose that they go through the swap method as he felt that would be most beneficial.
Councilman Mitzel said he had realized immediately there may be a need for possible maintenance or as Councilman Schmid just mentioned, bringing up the buildings to a stable condition, and he believed at their last meeting a week ago, the Finance Director came forward and said there was $400,000 to $500,000 that was extra from last year that they were not anticipating and really was not allocated within the Budget so there was a possibility they would find a minimal amount of money out of that to at least stabilize the buildings.
Mr. Byers said if they would look at Option 2 listed in Mr. Klaverís memorandum, there was a cost of about $40,000 per acre on the straight purchase and if they look at the value of the property on the corner of Eleven Mile and Wixom Roads, that was being considered the 100 acre plot and if they look at the per acre cost, it was a significant savings to the City to do a straight land swap and it brings the price of the property down almost to the price that previous Council Member Toth talked about as being a fair and equitable price for the City to pay for the corner.
Mr. Byers said it was nowhere near the $200,000 that was out there if they look at it on a pure cost basis and it was quite a savings. He said the other issue he wanted to point out for Council was that the School Board, because of their concerns of the property, have already directed the Administration to remove all asbestos from the home and it has been removed, so that part of the building cost has already been taken care of by the School District, and he should mention that the reason that was done, was that pieces of asbestos were hanging loose in the basement and for safety purposes, it was decided regardless of what was going to happen with the building and whether it would be raised or renovated, that had to be taken out for the safety of anyone going through the building, so that has already been completed and it had cost about $6,500.
Mr. Kortlandt stated the issue of the School Board allowing the City to lease it was really made when there was a public outpouring through petitions, with hundreds of children and adults filling out petitions saying they wanted the buildings saved, so the School Board thought they would provide an alternative to bulldozing at the moment and allow the City six months to look into it. He said one concern he has as a Board Member was that there was not a commitment that would definitely preserve the property. He said it sounds as if they acquire the property, that they might later on turn it into a parking lot or something.
Mr. Kortlandt said quite honestly it was a valuable piece of property to the School District being contiguous to what they now operate and they would much rather have it with them than going somewhere else, and he was a little concerned that the commitment doesnít seem to be there after the purchase, at least as expressed that evening.
Councilwoman Mutch felt Mr. Kortlandt was giving a worse-case scenario and that was not the expectations of those who were motivated to see this succeed.
Mayor McLallen at this point asked Mr. Kriewall to give everyone an update on the actual land swap negotiations and was this a viable thing and could he explain the mechanics to everyone as to whether the swap was what would enable them to move forward and what steps do they still need to take.
Mr. Kriewall felt they could have a separate agreement that addresses the particular land swap in its entirety and in the meantime, he and Dr. Lippe met with the attorney for the Levy Company last week to get an update on the progress of acquiring that site at Eleven Mile and Wixom Road and they have indicated they have now cleared the title on the property and they have a couple of clauses they want added to the Purchase Agreement and they were very close to finalizing that Purchase Agreement and he would say within the next 30 days, they would have a Purchase Agreement that was acceptable to all parties.
Mayor McLallen asked if at the time Councilman Mitzelís motion gains support, what mechanism would have to be created to convey this particular five acres to the City. Mr. Kriewall replied they would then resell it in some form of an agreement to the School District to transfer the property and that would have to be worked out by their attorney, but he didnít see that being any problem at all, as a matter of fact, they could work out the details of that in the interim and once they have title to the Levy property, he could then pass it on to the School District.
Mayor McLallen said so Councilman Mitzelís stated goal of achieving this with no new cash for the transaction of the property was met then and Mr. Kriewall said it looked realistic.
Councilman Mitzel said the time line of the last City Council meeting in December was December 11th, which was 28 days from now, so they would have to meet that time frame and Mr. Kriewall felt they could meet that.
Mayor McLallen asked Councilman Mitzel to restate his motion.
Councilman Mitzel said his motion was:
That the City Council direct the City Administration to enter into negotiations for the swap of the five acre corner parcel with the School District for property at Eleven Mile, and to be brought back within the time frame of the Lease Agreement entered into this summer which was December 11th.
FURTHER DISCUSSION ON MOTION
Councilwoman Mutch asked the School Board if this motion passes, would that then meet the requirement that they had that a commitment be made by the City to work towards acquiring the property or do they want a signed agreement by December 31st.
Mr. Byers replied the one concern that the Board was looking at that was more important than the five acres they were talking about, was they have an architect ready to move forward with the footprints for them within 30 days of a new middle school and they need to have a commitment that the property they want to acquire on Eleven Mile Road has indeed been acquired so they could get started on site planning and layout.
Mr. Byers said it was important that they have some type of documentation finished within the last 30 days or at least by the end of the year before they break for the winter recess and they can get started. He said at the moment, that takes a great deal of precedence over anything else, because they really need to get started if they were going to have that building open and ready for the kids in the time frame that the Board has set forth, so he felt they both go together, but they could resolve all of it in one matter without slowing any of the process.
Vice-President Streit said speaking for one Board Member, this was the first time he has heard some kind of progress and he was really pleased with Councilman Mitzelís proposal here and it was the first time he has seen anything that looks positive to him. He said regarding Councilman Schmidís comments, finances were a problem for everyone and there was no question about it.
Vice-President Streit said the new building was even of more importance to the School Board and he felt this was a very positive step and he was to glad to hear it.
President Foreback said what he was hearing from the Board then was that they would view this as a progress that would meet the time lines that they have set in the original motion last June.
Mayor McLallen said there was a motion on the floor to direct the City Administration to proceed with the acquisition of the five acres through the land swap and that the documentation for this would be prepared in an acceptable form by their December meeting.
(Voice vote) MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
2. Sister City.
a. School Board Relationship with Owani
b. City Relationship Owani
Mayor McLallen explained this item was the Sister City Program that has been happening with the City of Owani, and she believed the exchange has happened at least three times so far and she understood that this was the year that the members from Owani would be here. She said they recently had correspondence with the Sister City and they were doing some sort of an Expo in their community and they had asked for them to send a "get to know Novi care package" so she believed that was worked out between both bodies.
President Foreback said what they were looking for here was that as was mentioned, the people from Owani are coming over here and he and Vice-President Streit had the opportunity to visit Japan last year and what they were looking for was what kind of continued commitment the City may have in working with them on the program and not only when the people from Japan visit here, but in the future, and they still intend to take students over there every other year and he wondered what participation the City may want to have in that endeavor.
Mayor McLallen stated in the last year, the City did not participate and there was an issue of the funding for the program and both parties had, quite frankly, never had the chance to get together and discuss the merits of what was positive about this relationship and because the Council really was not that familiar enough with all the merits and because they did have some budget constraints last year, this item was not funded. She felt this was a nice opportunity now that they have all of them to explain the merits and the benefits and why they so actively support this program and perhaps would help the Council to come together either in support or non-support, but it would enable them to make an informed decision, which she didnít think they were able to make before.
Mayor McLallen asked them to give the highlights and perhaps some of the financial aspects of their support of the Program.
Vice-President Streit said in talking about the benefits, they met with the Owani School Board and the City twice and as best they could, had some pretty candid conversations regarding finances, regarding problems, regarding pretty much all the things that occur there that also occur in Novi as a School Board and as a City and they just compared notes the way they handled things, etc., so it was a sharing of ideas and granted, things were a bit different so really it was more hearing what other people did and what they had experienced and not necessarily a direct correlation to the way they handled things here, but it was still a chance to meet with the City and with the School Board in regard to problems and also positive things that happened.
Vice-President Streit felt of more importance was just the feeling of comradery between the Cities and the School Districts and it was probably one of the finest experiences he has ever had. He said it was nice getting to know people from another country, being able to communicate with them, again as best they could and surprisingly, they communicated a lot better than they thought they would and it was just sharing thoughts, sharing customs and it was not really just a School Program.
Vice-President Streit said one example was the first night they were in Owani, the entire town came out to welcome them and the feeling that you get and the sharing you get from that was probably worth the trip all by itself and so it was really more a friend-making.
Vice-President Streit said from a school standpoint, they were talking an experience that they would never have again. He indicated they visited all the schools and shared ideas with them and met all the students. He said from his own prospective as an educator and also from what the students told him, a lot of the things heard on TV or read about, the political part concerning other countries really doesnít deal with real people. He said when they were there, they were dealing with real people the whole time, if that makes sense, and to him, that was probably the highlight of the trip being able to meet other people and to be with them and make friends. He felt the more they could communicate with other people around the world, the better off they all were.
Mr. Byers said he had the opportunity visit Owani in 1994. He said they could never outdo what the community of Owani does for them if they tried to replicate it here because they simply do not have the Japanese understanding of what they perceive courtesy to be.
Mr. Byers said it was asked about a budget standpoint and they had a dinner for the Japanese and took them to a baseball game, a bus trip and to the Fifties Festival. He felt if they could do a little more in a combined effort with the City and the School District such as a community evening with some type of a reception and have a full dinner for each member of that community that would cost $30.00, which would be quite honestly a lot of money for those folks. He said the Japanese would get to eat food that they donít normally eat as family members because they bring in all the special food that the Japanese normally cannot afford, such as fruit, vegetables, cuts of meat, fresh milk, etc., so it would be a unique experience.
Mr. Byers felt it would be wonderful if they could have a Community Appreciation Reception either here or the School District and ideally here because this was a perfect place for it, where they would have the community come in and share food with the Japanese and then have a joint presentation from the City to the visiting dignitaries and from the School District to the visiting dignitaries and there is a good lesson to be learned by everyone. He added when visiting Owani they learned that their Mayor appointed everyone.
Mr. Byers indicated that Matt Quinn had been the Mayor representing Novi and he was the President and they spent a great deal of time explaining to the Japanese their system of government and why they do things separately, the School District versus the City and also trying to explain that the funding to run the schools comes from the City. He indicated that most of the funding in Owani comes from the Federal Government.
Mr. Byers said when the kids come over here on a trip from Owani, that is money all provided by the Federal Government, and when Novi students go to Owani, it is money that mom and pop come up with and fund raisers were held and there was some community effort to raise money so it was an entirely different thing from Owani. He felt Novi students have gained a good appreciation for their value system by living in the homes and their kids have seen the school side of that, and he felt it would be wonderful if they could become a little more involved in the Cityís side of how the City operates. He said if they could get their Mayor to come to Novi, they would find him to be a delightful gentleman and it would be a wonderful thing to do.
Mayor McLallen asked what does the program cost the School Board as that is where they have a major concern. Mr. Byers asked Mr. Koester how much money did they spend the last time they were there for the baseball games, the dinners, etc., and Mr. Koester replied it would be between $400-$600. Mayor McLallen asked what was the cost of the members of the School Board going to Owani.
Mr. Byers said when the School Board goes to Owani every year, much of the City has a National Convention that they have allocated a Budget to and the School Board members that opt to go to Owani forfeit that and the money from that is used toward Owani and then each Board Member has to put in $500 of their own money and then spending money.
President Foreback said they always hear about what Japan manufactures that they send over to sell to us, but what they donít hear about and what they see by visiting, is what they buy from us to do that manufacturing, and he was totally amazed to see products from Mt. Clemens, Warren, and Cincinnati Ohio used in their factories to make the cars that they buy from them. He said the Japanese are always looking for ways and places to invest in this country and places to manufacture their things and someday why not Novi.
Ms. Newton said she was sorry the students were not there because they certainly could describe this trip better than any of them could and they were wonderful. She said they spoke at their Board meeting about a month or two ago and they were truly ambassadors representing the City and they did indeed represent us very well and they should all be proud of them in that respect.
Ms. Newton said some of the things that she felt were the benefits of going there was of course they had a history lesson and they had a government lesson and they brought that all back to the School Board and also to the whole community. She felt it made their community more enriched by having that group there and by them sharing all those events that they participated in with us.
Vice-President Streit felt even more than that, with the very people on the Council and on the Board working different places, those experiences get shared really throughout the metropolitan area, and he knows personally his experiences have been shared as far away as Boston for example and it was something he probably couldnít have experienced by himself, nor probably could any of the Council Members here either so he thought that was important too.
Vice-President Streit said he felt almost all of the students who have attended this trip are taking Japanese or the majority of them are and even planning on going back by themselves, just as another example of the benefits they found from the trip.
Vice-President Streit commented when talking about costs, which he talked about earlier, they were extremely honored when they were in Japan and they were invited to dinner by the Superintendents House, which is pretty much unheard of, and he didnít have a Superintendents House, but he has a small cottage out in Hillsdale that wouldnít cost them anything but a bus ride to take the kids out there. He said they were planning a little bit ahead as far as the School District, so there were some things that they could do just to show the students and the other people what real people are like, commoners are like, plus what the School District is like too.
Ms. Elfring said they realize the challenge they have been charged with to be sure and they are now educating their children to compete in a global environment. She said they all have to learn how to function globally and with all the different cultures, and she felt this was an opportunity not only for the students, but also for the community members to learn how to function with the world as a whole.
Mr. Kortlandt said he felt they were aware that the largest minority that they have in their population are those of Asian ancestry so by City Members traveling over there, he felt they would gain some understanding of their own population and to attract more of the population which they also are aware of as of the higher income which supports all of their functions and school districts, so he felt that could be a plus for the City also.
Dr. Lippe noted that 8% of their student body was Asian and that represents only the people that have children in school. He said they feel an educational experience is very important to their student body and probably makes the most sense for them to have a partnership and association with the Japanese.
Dr. Rita Traynor said she echoed all the things that have been said and some may feel it was her idea, but it was the total idea of a teacher at Orchard Hills and all of the people who were working with her classroom. She indicated a lot of their Japanese mothers and other culture groups work in their classrooms and they have had the opportunity to get involved with Owani and it was truly a great experience and she was sure the former Mayor would echo that. She said learning the languages and being able to share was very exciting, as was also bringing part of their democratic ways to those people there and for them to share also with us.
Dr. Traynor said the first time they ever went, the Superintendent there told them that they were the first people from the United States that any of the students had ever seen and so that made them all feel very good so they would be very happy to have them join us and to be more involved and they were willing to do as much work as they need to have that happen.
Mayor McLallen felt that was the first most complete overview of the program and support for why this School Board has been so involved, and she felt there were really two questions before the Council that evening, and obviously Owani will be the guest for the School Board this year. She asked for the dates and Dr. Traynor replied it may be the end of July.
Mayor McLallen said obviously on that level, there was a request to have them participate at a higher level to make a more community-wide effort with the School Board as they are the guests in their community this year and also the larger question was will the City Council wish to participate in the exchange of the City Officials in the following year.
Mayor McLallen asked if Council had any thoughts on these issues.
Councilwoman Mutch said while the School District was focused on School Board members, teachers and students representing the District, the City can make a commitment to be a part of the hosting program without necessarily making a commitment to send the whole City Council and every Department Head.
Councilwoman Mutch felt the City could be instrumental in putting together a group of people who would like to represent this community on a broader basis than just the School District. She said in other words, the City Council might support efforts to find people in the community who would be representative for example, the Chamber or at least the business community, the service industries, and maybe even higher educational institutions, as well as average citizens and then find a way to make that affordable for the people who want to go, and if that happens to include City officials beyond the designated one or two that might be paid for out of some sort of City Budget, she felt they could perform a service in that way and beef up the delegation, and broaden the exposure to other facets of American life.
Mayor McLallen asked for any other comments from Council regarding participating. She felt the School Board would like some level of commitment that evening from the Council towards this summerís posting or not.
Councilman Mitzel said this sounds like a great program for education and for the School District Program. He said his concern was that he didnít feel it was a City program. He said they have three other School Districts in the City that encompass the other half of the City limits and if each of them were to ask them to participate also in such a program, it could get quite enormous for them and that was a concern he has as well. He said the Novi School Districts and the City of Novi share a name and share quite a few people and the School Districts should probably continue on their program, but he didnít think the City should be the one to fund a City side of it. He believed Councilwoman Mutch may have brought up a more appropriate route which was that maybe the School District should enter into a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce or some other civic group to orchestrate such an event.
Councilman Mitzel said he would rather see that they focus on more what their role as a City Government was and they have many needs that they still have at home that they havenít even addressed and that was his concern, and that they donít start trying to get into an expensive program that would benefit a couple Council Members to be able to go to Japan. He said true, there is a lot of information and a lot of things that they could learn, but as Vice-President Streit said there is really sometimes not a direct correlation to their conditions here and that was his concern. He said he was just raising a caution flag and saying that he felt it was an excellent program but he has hesitations from a Council standpoint and from a City Government standpoint.
Councilman Schmid commented he shared much of what Councilman Mitzel stated and he shared that the last time they talked about going, however, at that time, there were the Budget constraints. He said Councilman Mitzel brought up a point that they often forget and that he continues to forget, that there were three or four different School Districts in this community and it was just not the Novi School District and the northern end, back where he lived, happens to go to Walled Lake and it was a rather large contingency of their population that pay taxes to that school and of course, to the City here.
Councilman Schmid said, however, he felt the City certainly could participate as Japan comes to this country and to this City, and the City should welcome them here and have a dinner and so on, which shouldnít be that expensive.
Councilman Schmid also felt they should discuss either at Budget time or at some later time, whether or not they want to commit the City to some dollars to send people to Japan on a continuing basis and that would be his recommendation. He said he felt they could certainly find enough in their coffers to participate in the business of the group here.
Councilwoman Mutch stated if they were to participate in the hosting, and she didnít mean to take on a large financial burden, but to have City Government represented and to take some leadership role in trying to get the rest of the community to participate in that visit in a way that showcases what this community is, that would be at very little cost in terms of dollars and cents. She said out of that experience may come people who then will spend the next year trying to involve their business or their service organization or their community group in a way that will make it possible for Novi to be represented beyond the School District on that return visit to Owani. She would be interested in seeing or knowing whether the School District has made any effort to see if surrounding school districts have similar programs or are interested in becoming involved in the Owani Exchange.
President Foreback said with the summer group visit coming up and with the planning for it already starting, they were looking for that kind of a commitment and he felt they have that direction from Council that night and he appreciated that and he looked forward to working with Council.
Mayor McLallen indicated that there appeared to be within the conversation, support for facilitating and she did not see a dollar amount or anything proposed, but for facilitating a hosting and perhaps the direction appears to have been to encourage broader participation from the community at large and not wholly under the offices of the City.
3. Commercial Development In Novi.
Mayor McLallen believed this particular issue was brought here probably post Proposal A and probably somewhat from the Chamber of Commerce document, Novi at a Crossroad, and she believed it was here to see what mutual concerns Council has and perhaps ways that both bodies can put their heads together on the issue.
Mayor McLallen stated that prior to Proposal A, it has always been very significant to talk about economic development in a community and Novi has had a very strong history in non-residential economic development. She said but as they have all learned in the past several years, their economic development has switched its major base and it was no longer primarily based upon their non-residential development, and their Cityís economy, as of the moment, was majority supported by residential development. She said this has been a concern to all of them and perhaps this discussion could just be a free-flowing discussion on ways that they perceive, since the economy of this community was paramount to their goal, which was creating an outstanding quality community. She said all a person has to do is drive up and down Nine Mile Road or go over to Wixom Road and see what was happening.
Mayor McLallen said Nine Mile Road at the moment has a number of what has been historically some of their more significant industrial business bases and there were signs For Lease and For Sale. She said last year, the City of Wixom achieved in excess of 30 new industrial projects and this City has received one. She said there has to be a new thought process amongst all of us. She said perhaps the educators have a clue that the City doesnít, but something has to happen to revitalize the reasons that people want to invest in this community.
Councilman Mitzel said he had one point to ask Mr. Kriewall and that is he believed the City Administration was exploring getting into some information on fiscal impact modeling for long-range land-use planning and maybe he could say if there has been any progress or what time frame that may be coming forward.
Mr. Kriewall replied he thought they should have something within 60-90 days before City Council on that issue.
Councilman Mitzel said that should be a tool that would help them evaluate long-range direction and maybe that information could be shared with the four School Districts within the borders of Novi.
Councilman Mitzel said his other point was he wanted a clarification from the School Board. He said he perceived the concern more to be that commercial/industrial development be concurrent with the residential development as opposed to the School Board advocating that the Master Plan long-range build-out is imbalanced, but he wasnít certain and he hasnít heard whether the concern really is the current development or the long-range. He asked if possibly the School Board could shed some light on that.
President Foreback felt with some of the effects they just heard in terms of the amount of industrial tax base, the commercial tax base that has come into the City recently is a concern and even with Proposal A, they still have interest in preserving the tax base.
Mayor McLallen asked if they would recommend any changes to the Master Plan.
Councilman Mitzel asked why or should the City start building more commercial/industrial projects.
Mr. Byers said there seems to be a negative feeling to develop commercial or to use as commercial. He said there was very little in this town for students to aspire to.
Mr. Byers questioned the Grand Plan and said that the Town Center moved industrial like Cadillac Asphalt to Wixom and the tax base which should have been in Novi but ended up in Wixom.
Councilman Schmid said the Grand Plan was a good idea. He said they have more commercial development than any other community in Oakland County. He said it was logical for commercial to develop first. He felt residential was starting to come and he felt they should address the density and ways to maintain density such as large lot subdivisions.
Councilman Schmid said that it was tougher to develop industrial within Novi than other communities and possibly that needs to be looked at.
Councilwoman Cassis said Novi was at crossroads. She said the Planning Department was looking at trends all the time even the Master Plan Update is sensitive. She felt the ongoing discussion was very productive and will not be lost. She felt the Ordinance needs to be adjusted from time to time and fine-tuning was always a process she was optimistic of.
Councilwoman Mutch asked if anyone has looked at the Master Plan.
Mr. Koester mentioned the 50/50 Homestead and that stated that Novi did not look at the Master Plan.
Mayor McLallen said they could tour industrial and possibly showcase some sites this summer.
Mayor McLallen said she echoed Councilwoman Cassisí comments.
President Foreback suggested having a meeting in March.
Moved by Vice-President Streit
Seconded by Councilwoman Mutch
To adjourn the Joint City Council and School Board meeting at 9:45 P.M.
(Voice vote) MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
MAYOR CITY CLERK
Date Approved ________________________