SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE WHOLE OF THE COUNCIL FOR THE CITY OF NOVI AND THE NOVI HISTORICAL COMMISSION
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1996 - 6:30 P.M. EST
ACTIVITIES ROOM - NOVI CIVIC CENTER - 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor McLallen called the meeting to order at 6:35 P.M..
ROLL CALL: Mayor McLallen, Mayor Pro Tem Crawford, Council Members Cassis, Clark, Mitzel, Mutch, Schmid
President Bononi, Commissioners Bauer, Girardot, Mutch, OíConnell, Rothenberg, Thomson (arrived 6:41)
ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION AND/OR ACTION
Mayor McLallen summarized the objectives of the Historical Commission and advised that Council would like to provide as much support as possible. Mayor McLallen asked each Historical Commission member to provide a brief introduction.
Commissioner Bauer reported she has been a member for four years. Further, she believes their biggest challenge and their original charges is to get set up. She added that her greatest frustration is not getting things accomplished.
Commissioner OíConnell advised he has been a member for three years and believes their biggest challenge is remaining focused. He said some of their successes are beginning to take form in making the Town Hall a museum, but they seemed to be sidetracked. He added the budget reduction also had a negative impact on their progress, but it seems they are still able to accomplish some of their objectives. He believes their most important goal is to turn the Old Town Hall into a museum.
President Bononi reported she has been on the Commission for a year and a half and added that her interest is with the restoration of burial stones. As President over the last year, she advised she has tried to complete unfinished business.
Commissioner Rothenberg has been a member for ten months and he is primarily interested in Civil War history. Further, he believes the Fuerst property and the Town Hall
are wonderful resources for the City.
Commissioner Thomson reported he has been a member for five years. His original interest was with the Knapp Cemetery on Nine Mile Road which provided motivation for him to get involved. In the last couple years, his focus has been directed toward seeing that they purchase a historical marker for the Novi Road cemetery and his future objective is to provide a marker for the Knapp cemetery.
Commissioner Girardot has been a member for thirteen months and became involved with the Commission because of his desire to become involved with the community. He thinks the greatest success the Commission has achieved over the last thirteen months is their outreach to the Novi Schoolís students in the poetry contest they held last Friday. He believes their charge is to preserve the cityís artifacts in a museum like setting and he shares the other Commission memberís frustrations. He believes some of their problems are structural and that they canít accomplish much because they meet only once a month.
Commissioner Mutch has been a member for seven years and her major contribution has been maximizing the network in support of local history efforts. She added she had the opportunity to review the Commissionís minutes since her tenure and she is amazed at what they have accomplished during their existence. Further, she believes the time has now come to determine how the Old Town Hall will be used.
Mayor McLallen summarized the introductions and believes their biggest challenge is achieving a clear focus. Further, it appears that the Commission would like to make the function of the Town Hall a priority and that they would also like to identify where the Fuerst property fits in.
Historical Commission Annual Meeting
A. Work Program
C. Permanent Records/Artifacts Retention
D. Town Hall Issues
President Bononi reviewed the Historic Commissionís 1995-96 Work Program and stated most of it is self-explanatory. She reported the first listing of the standing and working committees are listed because prior to her becoming a member they only had limited committee work. She said meeting only once a month has made it difficult to accomplish anything.
Mayor McLallen asked if there is any desire to meet more frequently?
President Bononi replied with the commitment that most of them have with other boards and commissions and family commitments, sometimes it is a lot for them to make it to one meeting. Therefore, they try to stick to their agendas and make efficient use of their time. Further, they have found that the establishment of committees have enabled them to accomplish more work and they have been very successful in establishing the committees to help make their projects flow.
President Bononi said their first Arts & Essays awards this year was a jewel of success for them. She reported fifth and sixth grade Northville and Novi school districts participated and the students were very excited about the awards. She added their intent is to repeat the event next year.
She further reported the second Old Town Hall Use Policy and Procedure was a refinement of problems that seemed to have plagued the Old Town Hall in terms of its use. She added the hall has severe limitations from the standpoint of promoting its use because the bathroom facilities are not connected with the first floor and it entails going outside the building to use them.
President Bononi reported that the third item was Old Town Hall Security which is still being discussed in terms of how applicants can secure access without keeping keys.
President Bononi further reported the Photographic Display Committee is evaluating a small photo display to begin the museum idea within the building.
She added the cemetery markers project is essentially completed and the Cemetery Markers Text Committee met to work out the language. Further, the Cemetery Master Plan will carry over the establishment of landscaping, maintenance and preservation plans into the next year. President Bononi said they have also been consulting the Cityís forester at this point.
President Bononi reported the Committeeís completed immediate goals for 1995-96 were enlisting a policy and procedure for Old Town Hall, cemetery markers, arts and essay awards and a perimeter survey of the Novi Road cemetery which they acquired through a donation from JCK. She added they have contracted a painter for the exterior painting of the Old Town Hall and it will be completed as soon as possible.
President Bononi said the working policyís composition and distribution was accomplished through the Clerkís office. Further, the Commission supplied some previous Commission records that were found and the incomplete minutes are now complete. President Bononi reported their number one long range consideration is for the establishment of the museum. In addition, the formulation of a policy regarding the acceptance of donated historic items has been one issue that the committee has agreed and disagreed equally on. She reported the Commission is concerned about the building becoming a depository of things that people no longer want and they agree a policy should be set up by which they will only accept items from 1900 until 1910.
President Bononi reported the third issue is defining a security system. The current system was updated after they experienced frozen water pipes.
President Bononi stated the Commission would like to establish a Master Plan for landscaping and maintenance to preserve the stones. She also said Chris Pargoff would like to see a Victorian style landscaping plan for the Novi Road cemetery. She further advised there is a historic black and white photographic survey of gravestones which have historic merit.
In conclusion, there are items and events which the Commission feels could bring emphasis, interest and education to Novi residents and would also promote the Old Town Hall.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked if the goals are from September of 1995 until September of 1996? President Bononi replied their calendar year is November through November.
Mayor ProTem Crawford asked what is the Work Plan for 1996-97? President Bononi replied they have not prepared it yet. Mayor ProTem Crawford hopes they will include some long range goals in the 1996-97 plan, particularly in the establishment and maintenance of a museum. Further, he believes the photographic survey and gravestones are worthy projects. He asked if they have considered going beyond that by collecting old photos or document events photographically that are happening right now. He added if they photographed this meeting, it would be history years from now. He said there may not be an effort to document current events and he could suggest a local camera club that could help them do this.
Mayor ProTem Crawford said there seems to be a lot of emphasis on cemeteries, but it almost seems as though it took half their effort for the year. Although he would like to see them continue this effort, he would like them to put additional effort in other areas. He thought the arts and essay event was a good project and thinks similar events could be used to publicize the City, the Commission and the Historical Society.
Mayor ProTem Crawford concluded by trying to diplomatically state that he firmly believes that Kathy Mutch and Michelle Bononi should not be members of the Historical Commission because of their memberships on City Council and the Planning Commission. He encourages both of them to resign their positions.
Although President Bononi agrees with Mayor ProTem Crawford, she advised that she doesnít have a vote over the Historical Commissionís budget as a Planning Commissioner. Further, she would ask that a policy be set if they would like to address this issue and she would be glad to resign under those circumstances.
Mayor ProTem Crawford does not want to turn this into a big issue, but he would like it discussed because he would like to know how other Council members feel about this. However, he does not want to take up the time tonight to discuss this.
Councilman Mitzel said the Commissionís goals look worthy, but he doesnít know how seven people can accomplish them individually. He added that he doesnít know enough about the Commission to know who actually performs the work. He thinks it is a lot for the City to expect that seven volunteers will establish and run a museum. He can see the Commission setting guidelines, but he expects that it would take other volunteers to accomplish the other jobs.
Councilman Clark commended the Commission for undertaking such ambitious projects and for what they have accomplished so far. He asked if they are cataloguing the permanent records and artifacts? President Bononi replied there have been no official additions to the catalog that she has been aware of since she has become President. However, she noted they have a professionally prepared list in their possession.
Mayor McLallen said part of that issue is that the library also had a collection and maintained certain things and they want to maximize the flow. Further, as someone pointed out their chain of command needs to be clarified so everyone knows their role.
Councilwoman Cassis asked how the Commission feels Council can help them and if attending these meetings would be helpful? Further, she believes the Historical Commission plays an important role in the preservation of the communityís past and thanked the Commission for their generous efforts.
Councilman Schmid commended the entire Commission for their commitment and apologized for not being more involved. He asked if there is any interest from others to do some projects? Member OíConnell replied they do all the work themselves and they do not have other people to support them for the "grunt" work. Further, he reported just getting the Town Hall to the museum level is two years of their work because of logistics and politics within the Commission. He reported the markers in itself took three years to complete. He added they have spoken with Friends of the Historical Commission and the whole problem is that they have too much work to do with too few people to do it.
Councilman Schmid suggested that they form committees and that the Commission should become directors.
Member Thomson said it is their responsibility to create interest, but it has been quite a task. However, he believes once they gain some interest, it will grow. He reported one method to encourage involvement is to market awareness of Noviís history by drawing attention to their projects.
Councilman Schmid asked if one of their goals could be to promote greater interest in the Commission? He suggested that they begin by looking for people to be a part of it by forming subcommittees. Member Thomson said they have gone as far as suggesting that they should begin advertising, but unfortunately their budget did not permit it.
Councilwoman Mutch pointed out that the Arts and Essay Contest included Novi and Northville schools and it would have included Walled Lake schools, but they chose not to participate. She believes it is important for the Commission to continue to have the school districts represented.
Councilwoman Mutch reported the cemetery work is the sort of event that according to the ordinance could be justified because it is documenting the history of the community. However, she thinks the effort that is going to be involved in the Master Plan and if the Commission is going to do it right, itís going to be hard to justify doing that because planning for a cemetery is not in the charge. She thinks it might be a good idea for Commission representatives to meet with staff or legal counsel to discuss how they can review this to determine what the Commission can focus on.
Councilwoman Mutch reported she asked Brenda Evans at the library to tell them what the focus of the local history collection is. Ms. Evans provided a memo and asked members to look at what they are doing now in terms of documents, maps, traffic and photographs. Councilwoman Mutch said the library would better do this task as opposed to the Commission because they have the necessary capabilities and facilities.
In conclusion, Councilwoman Mutch reminded Mayor ProTem Crawford that ordinarily a Council election would create a vacancy on those committees or Commissions that a Council Member might be on. She further reminded him that the Commission already had a vacancy that had no applicants after last years election. Councilwoman Mutch stated she was willing to continue to serve at Councilís pleasure and Council was willing for her to do that. She advised she is willing to step down when they fill the vacancy. She added Council unanimously approved a motion several years ago that the Commission must have a Council liaison.
Mayor McLallen said the Commissionís budget is $17,000 and she suggested before they have budget discussions for next year, that the Commission should determine what their priorities are. Further, she asked them to put real numbers to it so that when they get to the budget process, they will know where the money is being committed and that it will be spent. She said the Commission has made an excellent case to the community, but they need to be focused and have a realistic time frame. She said there also appears to be a need for the Commission to add personnel to support their effort so they may accomplish their goals. One suggestion is to dedicate a page in the calendar to the Historical Commission.
There being no further business before City Council, the meeting was adjourned at 7:30 P.M..
Mayor City Clerk
Transcribed by Barbara Holmes
Date Approved: November 18, 1996