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SPECIAL JOINT MEETING OF THE COUNCIL AND
NOVI HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF NOVI
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2001, AT 7:00 PM
NOVI CIVIC CENTER – COUNCIL CHAMBERS – 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD
Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 7:15 PM.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
COUNCIL: Mayor Clark, Mayor ProTem Lorenzo – absent/excused, Council Members Bononi – absent/excused, Cassis, Csordas, DeRoche – absent/excused and Kramer
HISTORICAL COMMISSION: Krieger, Lussier, Mutch, Rothenberg, Swope
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-01-03-069 Moved by Csordas, seconded by Kramer; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY:
To approve the agenda as presented.
Vote on CM-01-03-069 Yeas: Clark, Cassis, Csordas, DeRoche, Kramer
Absent: Lorenzo, Bononi, DeRoche
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
Marilyn Troshak, Parks and Recreation Department, was present and has been the liaison to the Historical Commission for 1-˝ years. Ms. Troshak introduced Alan Rothenberg of the Historical Commission and he advised Council that the Historical Commission sponsored a summer concert and promoted the Fuerst Farm Family Picnic in the Fall.
Commissioner Mutch commented she would like to include local people with performance ability doing folk music or other entertainment of a historical nature.
Mayor Clark said people thought because the City was only a little more than 30 years old it didn’t have a history. He reminded everyone that there is a veteran of the Revolutionary War buried in the Yerkes Cemetery and several Revolutionary War veterans in the Novi Cemetery so the history of Novi went back a long, long way.
Commissioner Lussier said if anyone had photographs, instruments, or anything that related to Novi’s history they would appreciate it if they could see them and possibly put them on display.
Commissioner Rothenberg spoke regarding the Third Annual Fuerst Farm Family Picnic and that it would bring attention to the Fuerst Farm. The picnics are a great chance to promote historical Novi and to get the citizens of Novi familiar with the historical Town Hall. The turnout for the picnics had been fantastic with good sponsorship from local businesses. He said Local
Color and Red Hot and Blue restaurants made food donations. They were asking again for local business sponsorship as well as promotional consideration.
Commissioner Swope asked that whoever the entertainment was they did not send out flyers or newsletters informing or inviting their "fans" to attend the Novi picnic. Commissioner Rothenberg agreed.
Member Kramer congratulated the Historical Commission for the success of the picnic and commented its success was due to personal dedication and work by the Historical Commission.
Commissioner Rothenberg said Ms. Troshak was doing an outstanding job of coordinating and seeing that the details are taken care of.
Commissioner Mutch recalled the "Gala Days" and the Tom Marcus events and how it was impossible to keep it a local event as these things attract people driving on Ten Mile Road. This event should be in the spirit of the original Gala Days and Tom Marcus type events that were family and community oriented representing a cross section of community input and participation. They would like to host the event but did not want to dominate it and would encourage groups such as scouts, church groups, Rotary, or other public service organizations to be a part of it.
Member Kramer suggested discussing this with Ms. Uglow as she is putting together a Community Awareness Spring Summit of various City functions and had expanded it to include the civic groups in the City. This would be held on May 2nd and representatives of the civic groups, etc. would be there. Also, Member Kramer said "Gala Days" had lighthearted inter-community competitions, such as tug-of-war, etc. Member Kramer thought there might be subdivisions who would want to compete.
Member Cassis asked if they would be raising any money and suggested a raffle, donations, or something to supplement the cost.
Commissioner Lussier said there were several people who attended the picnic and offered to donate because they were so pleased with the entertainment, food, tours etc. He asked if they could accept funds to help preserve the Town Hall? Mayor Clark was sure it could be done and could be worked out with the City Attorney.
Mr. Klaver said they had researched the idea of donations and they are acceptable. He suggested the Commission discuss whether they would like to have a table at the Spring Summit and that they could make flyers and literature promoting their events and place them on the general table set up for groups that could not be present.
Commissioner Mutch said people needed to understand all they had to do was show up, look at the displays, go on a tour of the buildings alone or with a guide, eat and enjoy.
Member Cassis said this could be used as an opportunity to be informative as to what the Town Hall was all about and how it evolved. It would also serve as a way to promote it a little more.
Commissioner Mutch said the Town Hall was an interesting piece of history and people who attended past picnics were very curious and asked a lot of questions about it. It was a great opportunity to explain about the architecture, etc. The exhibits that were in the Town Hall were enjoyed by all. Mayor Clark has a Korean War Event in July and the Historical Commission would like to have an exhibit that focused on that time period. She said they operate on a shoestring and as they put the budget together they have to make really tough choices because they can’t do it all even when the "all" is limited.
Commissioner Swope felt if anything was going to be done with the Town Hall there had to be long term funding and Council would have to get together with the Library Board and obtain a long-term lease. There are ten years left on the lease and he would not want to put money into it if the Library could cancel their lease.
Commissioner Rothenberg felt the picnic should be moved up toward the Town Hall so it and the Fuerst Farm could be explored.
Commissioner Mutch agreed with Commissioner Swope that they were not talking about a lot of money but were talking about a steady commitment. Even when the Town Hall was not in use there was a certain minimal investment that had to be made every year and when looking at the budget that was where they started.
Commissioner Swope commented if artifacts were stored there the building had to be rehabilitated to avoid damage to them. He asked that if they were going to be able to do this to let them do it right and if not then let’s just forget it.
Commissioner Mutch said one of the things that worked well for them was to create partnerships especially with those other entities in the community who share some of their concerns. There is a lot of overlapping interest and there are many areas where they could work together.
One of the very first projects they worked on in the 1980’s was to raise $3,000 to microfilm the Northville Record from 1869 through 1949. Copies of that were given to the State Library and to the Northville and Novi libraries. The Library Board agreed that if the Historical Commission paid for half they would pay the other half to bring it up to date. They would take care of all the arrangements to microfilm the Novi News from 1955 and they were sent to Lansing to be microfilmed but it still left a gap between 1949 and the beginning of the Novi News in 1955. The Historical Society was persuaded to pay for the microfilmed copies from 1950 through 1955. We now have a complete run up to 1989, which was where the last donated volume ended. She hoped in a similar collaboration it would continue. The hope was that with everything computer driven it could now be done as it happened.
Member Cassis asked why microfilm? Commissioner Mutch said the Library was slow to agree on this because their staff thought digital imaging would be better. The problem was they would have to go back to the original newspapers and no one seemed to have them. Also, there was concern about the investment in digital images, how quickly it was changing and would they be able to keep up with the changes.
Member Cassis asked if they could go from microfilm to digital? She thought they could but they would be producing second generation-microfilmed images.
Commissioner Rothenberg said if put on CD or digital there was no guarantee that technology would be assessable down the road. Commissioner Mutch noted the thing with microfilm was, even though it took a microfilm reader, if you had to and there were no readers at all the microfilm could be held up to see what it said.
Ms. Troshak said, to finish out the overview of the projects, the Commission was able to get a custom-built professional display unit, which was used at their events and could be used as a travelling exhibit.
Commissioner Krieger reiterated Commissioner Swope’s comments regarding what would happen when their lease ran out and they had put a considerable amount of money into the Town Hall and the storing of artifacts.
Commissioner Krieger stated that the Fuerst Property was located on its primary property, therefore, working with Dana Archer they were able to get a Michigan marker. They would like to have a dedication in the spring and place the marker in the ground.
Ms. Troshak said there was no date set for the Fuerst marker yet. They wanted to contact the State to see what their availability was and they wanted to invite dignitaries for the dedication.
Ms. Troshak said they had talked about the Commission maintaining the level of activities and events that they hold in addition to doing other things.
Commissioner Swope asked who owned the Fuerst Property? Mayor Clark said it was the City. Commissioner Swope suggested considering, instead of turning the Town Hall
into a museum, rehabilitating the Fuerst House to bring it back to A-1 shape and furnish it like it was when it was new. He felt a public plea for furnishings would bring in donations to furnish the house and replace the furnishings that were stolen after the last sister passed away.
Commissioner Mutch asked what the City’s commitment was to the Fuerst Farm? Mayor Clark said the City would diligently pursue the possibility of grant funding either from the State or from Federal sources.
Ms. Troshak commented the Commission could contribute toward keeping the property foremost in people’s minds by continuing to expose their activities, events, cleanups, and the historic marker dedication service.
Member Cassis noted they might want to consider raising the awareness of the service clubs and business community because he felt if they were aware they would help.
Mayor Clark agreed and noted there were a lot of new high tech companies in the community and they have said part of their mission statement was to be an active participant in the communities in which they are headquartered. He suggested extending invitations to business and civic leaders to a fundraising cocktail party where information would be provided regarding our projected plans and that any support they could extend would be appreciated.
Commissioner Lussier stated it would be a good time to coordinate the dedication of the marker with the fundraiser.
Member Cassis thought some corporations might want to adopt the Fuerst Farm as their project.
Member Kramer noted interest in exploring an expanded Charter for the Historical Commission that would include the Fuerst Property like an Historic Campus. If the Commission agreed with the expansion of the Charter perhaps it could be pursued.
Commissioner Rothenberg didn’t know if the Commission was asking for that responsibility.
He felt a plan was needed before any funds went to the building and if restored to a historical era professional advice would be needed. The Commission could assist in finding the right advisors but there are people who know how to restore a building to an era with the proper paints, fixtures, etc.
Commissioner Swope noted if it were to be made a historic district then the title on the Old Town Hall would have to be changed.
Member Kramer commented these were things to consider to decide what the next step would be. Member Cassis asked if a visioning process had been done? Commissioner Mutch gave Member Cassis the visioning report.
Commissioner Mutch suggested the people who had been on the Fuerst Committee meet with the Historical Commission to come to an understanding of what the Committee had in mind and what the Commission had in mind. The spring cleanup is coming and she was unclear as to whose responsibility it was to organize it? There needed to be someone or some group in charge. She had talked with the Mayor about reconstituting the Fuerst Committee, temporarily, to get through the spring/summer period and the downturn in the economy and to get on track.
Member Kramer agreed that a brainstorming session with all interested people would be a good idea. Also, the library would be expanding and he was not sure how their expansion would relate to the integrity of the Town Hall site. Adjustments might have to be made there as well.
Commissioner Mutch noted there are two members and a past member of the Historical Commission on the Library Board. She was confident that they would discuss the concerns
about the Town Hall and hopefully the bond issue would pass and the building would be built with the Town Hall in mind.
Mr. Klaver said the Library put the Town Hall in the most southwest corner to minimize the impact.
Mayor Clark agreed a joint brainstorming session was a good idea and felt it should be made an action item for the first meeting in April. They would discuss where the Commission should go and what charge Council would give and whether it would include expanding the Charter.
Commission Swope hoped that the Fuerst Farm would be similar to Tollgate Farm eventually. He said Michigan State knew what to do and there is a Michigan State contingent in Novi.
Commissioner Mutch said part of what had been suggested had already been done a number of times and she wanted everyone to know this was not the first time they had brainstormed. It was also done through the Fuerst Committee. They talked with the County Extension Service and learned all the services the County provided from educating people and using the facility to provide County education programs. A lot of things had happened already and they needed to build upon that.
Member Kramer thought the focus should be on implementation, organization, management, and how to gather and employ the resources. They should be examined to the extent that they have a 10-year action plan. He suggested both sites as a campus kind of thing if acceptable.
Commissioner Mutch asked Council to look at their report because she thought some of the things Council was asking for were ready.
Also, she said in their budget request was the completion of the Historic District Study Committee Report. She said this Committee was down to three members. The guidelines
from the State was to look at properties 50 years or older. The City hired two consultants, property 50 years old and older were identified first, then they were examined for historic or architectural value, and a list was made. Originally, the idea was that when the Committee was done with its work they would make recommendations on creating historic districts. Some of those properties are gone because of fire, development, demolition, etc. but in many cases there are still photographs and documentation of the properties. Then the Historical Commission would look at the documents determining whether that Committee finished its work by conducting a public hearing and submitting a final report to Council. Council would decide whether to have historic districts, official historic designations and whether to have a Historic District Committee that was advisory or regulatory in nature. All the Historical Commission was interested in was bringing the document to completion to be available as a good historical and research document.
Member Mutch asked that the money required to complete the document according to the guidelines set by the State be spent. The State Historical Review Board does not require a lot but what they do require would take about $4,000 worth of consultant time. Then they would have a document that could be published as another view of the history of this community. The Commission under the ordinance has the responsibility for establishing a marker program,
which has been done, but had focused on public properties. Now, plaques might be available for private homes or buildings. It would help build pride in the community.
Mayor Clark commented Council would get the concerns on the agenda as action items for Council.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - NONE
There being no further business before the Council, the meeting was adjourned at 8:37 PM.
Richard J. Clark, Mayor Nancy Reutter, Deputy Clerk
Transcribed by: ____________________
Charlene Mc Lean
Date approved: April 4, 2001