|View Agenda for this meeting
REGULAR MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NOVI
Mayor Landry called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL: Mayor Landry, Mayor Pro Tem Capello, Council Members Gatt, Margolis, Mutch, Nagy-absent excused, Paul-absent
Member Paul arrived at 7:02 P.M.
ALSO PRESENT: Clay Pearson, City Manager
Tom Schultz, City Attorney
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-06-06-156 Moved by Margolis, seconded by Gatt; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY:
To an add Audience Participation after the approval of the agenda.
Joan Margaret Whittingham, 22766 Renford, was present in support of the action of the Library Board. She said the quality of a community was the quality of the Library. She stated the Library needed to be improved and expanded to keep up with the quality of the community.
Mayor Landry explained the purpose of the meeting was to interview candidates for City Boards and commissions, and after the interviews there would be a presentation from the Library Board.
Mayor Landry said the candidate interviews would begin with each candidate telling Council about themselves, and then each Council member would, if they wished, ask them one question.
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING: To interview candidates for appointment to Boards and Commissions and presentation from the Library Board.
7:00 Christina Radcliffe Ė Library Board; Economic Development, Public Access
Promotion; Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Ms. Radcliffe said she would like a position on a Board or commission because she wanted to be involved in her community, and offer her services to the City of Novi. She thought she brought something to the table with her professional experience, and hoped by attaining a position with a Board she would also take away something and learn something new.
Member Mutch said Ms. Radcliffeís first choice was the Library Board, and asked what she saw as the most pressing need the Library had today, and what she thought the needs would be in five or ten years.
Ms. Radcliffe thought technology was the major concern. There are always new ways to seek information, so the traditional Library might work for some, but those that work in a more advanced environment would seek alternatives to the traditional Library.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked if she thought the timing was right to go to the taxpayers, and ask for an increase in taxes to make some improvements to the Library.
Ms. Radcliffe thought it was a perfect time to do that, because looking at other communities, their library services offered a little more than the City of Novi offered. She said any chance there was to improve that made it worthwhile to go to the community and ask for support.
Member Gatt asked how she would answer the critic who thought a library wasnít needed, because of the internet and all it made available.
Ms. Radcliffe thought there would always be a challenge in seeking information, and there was a lot of information available on the internet. However, itís knowing how to find the information, and that was where librarians came in. They have a wealth of knowledge and possibly better ways of searching for information, and she felt there was still a need for libraries.
Member Margolis asked what specific skill she would bring to the community, and offer to one of the Boards that was unique and different from someone else.
Ms. Radcliffe responded she had over 17 years on the administrative side, and primarily purchasing. She said she was very familiar with the business aspect of running an operation, purchasing, payables, and accounting. She felt she had a well rounded knowledge she could bring to the table.
Member Paul asked what would be the most difficult situation she had encountered in her professional or personal environment, and how did she handle it.
Ms. Radcliffe said in her present position it would be telling a customer they couldnít do what they wanted to do. Oftentimes it angered the customer, and then it becomes how to deal with it, trying to explain why they couldnít do it, and offering alternatives. She said telling a person no was always a challenge for her.
Mayor Landry said he didnít believe there were any openings on the Library Board for appointments in July. He said appointments are made in July and in February. He noted that she had applied for the Economic Development, Public Access Promotion and Parks, Recreation and Forestry. Mayor Landry asked, of these other three, was there any one that she had a particular interest in.
Ms. Radcliffe replied probably Parks and Recreation. She said she attended the last meeting, and there was a lot of activity going on in Novi, and she thought it would be exciting to be a part of that.
7:10 Michael Lynch Ė Planning Commission
Mayor Landry said Mr. Lynch was applying for re-appointment to the Planning Commission.
Mr. Lynch said he had been on the Planning Commission for five months, his motivation had not changed, and he was willing to donate his time now that he was retired. Mr. Lynch said he was very impressed with Mr. Pearson, Ms. McBeth, and City staff. He said he liked being a part of the organization, and enjoyed the people currently on the Planning Commission. He said he was willing to commit to three more years, and his methodology was to win, win, win, homeowners, City, developer, and tried to carry that across every decision that came before the Planning Commission.
Member Paul asked if a site come forward in the last five months that was difficult, and how he handled it.
Mr. Lynch said there was one site that was an old apple orchard, and because of the chemicals they had used the soil was contaminated. They wanted to develop it, and it still was not clear to him how the City would win. He thought there would probably have to be more infrastructure than was initially intended. He said the adjacent homeowners would not win, because there wasnít a nice rural type buffer around it. Mr. Lynch said the developer did a magnificent job preparing the site, and he thought they would find a solution. However, right now there were two losers and one winner, and he and his colleagues were not quite prepared to approve that project.
Member Margolis asked him what was the most important thing he had learned in the last five months. Mr. Lynch said he really didnít know a lot, had taken the Oakland County Planning class, and was still on the learning curve. He said he would admit, at the beginning, it was a bit frustrating because he didnít understand all the zoning ordinances and all the things that went into approving a project. However, he was getting more comfortable with it, and was very pleased with the current commission. He thought they had good debates, and that each decision made and recommended to Council had been good, fair, reasonable decisions, and good recommendations. He felt as he went through it he would learn more and more.
Member Gatt asked what Council could do to make his job and the Planning Commissionís job easier.
Mr. Lynch replied he wasnít sure he could answer that just yet. He said his position on the Planning Commission was to make recommendations to Council. He said he would use his background in business and his knowledge of the Master Plan, etc., and make those recommendations. He said he couldnít give one answer of how Council could help because he had not seen anything where Council didnít help. He noted he couldnít think of one thing where the Council interfered, got in the way or did something to undermine the Commission.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked what his opinion was of the neighborhood church on the south end of the Island Lake subdivision. Mr. Lynch said he couldnít see it from where he lived. However, he knew there was some concern with the homeownerís adjacent to it. He said he was one of the first to buy, and knew it was on the plan when he bought his property. He
thought the homeowners were initially a bit surprised, but thought with the buffering and the berm the church would blend into the whole complex. He commented that many people didnít realize that before they bought a home they should visit the City, and ask for information about the land around it. Mr. Lynch said he and his wife did, and found the City to be very efficient.
Member Mutch said now that Mr. Lynch had been on the Planning Commission and a resident of Island Lake, from a planning perspective, he asked what challenges he saw for the area surrounding Island Lake.
Mr. Lynch said letís move away from Island Lake and look at Novi. He said he looked at Novi completely differently now that he was on the Planning Commission. He said strategic, decisive, directive planning needed to be done. He said the Grand River corridor and the M-5 corridor could be developed, and he still believed Beck Road needed to be five lanes, as it was the only road that connected M-14 to I-96. He thought Novi was fortunate to have Providence Hospital, which was a magnificent, beautiful complex, and the good news about having a large complex was whether the economy was good or bad people get sick. He felt that sooner or later the Beck Road corridor would have to be widened whether this year or this decade. He noted there was development going up in South Lyon which would put more demand on Ten Mile Road. He said instead of putting five lanes down Ten Mile Road, they might want to consider a right turn lane to help the cueing of people going down Ten Mile Road with the increased demand coming from South Lyon. He said the buildings around Novi that would be ready for reuse, how do we help that turnover. Mr. Lynch commented the Grand River and M-5 corridor right now are the two key areas he saw where they could not make a mistake.
Mayor Landry thanked Mr. Lynch for offering his time and talent. He thought now that Mr. Lynch was on the Planning Commission he would agree that it was not as easy as people thought it was.
7:20 Cynthia Grubbs Ė Economic Development
Ms. Grubbs said she had been a resident of Novi for three years, and had been an employee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for six years. She noted she had extensive knowledge of economic development, and had good relations with neighboring communities and their economic development commissions. She thought the Economic Development Commission in Novi could play a major role, and be a viable tool to move the City forward. She said she would like to be a part of that, and had a long career history. She said she had been working for a very long time. She said she came from the phone company environment, managed training facilities, and got to a point where public service was calling her. She stated she was very happy that she came into public service as it suited her personality very well to be able to do something to help the community. She said she wanted to join the EDC because she was a certified in economic developer from the National Development Counsel, and would like to bring her knowledge home to where she lived, and help out the City of Novi.
Member Margolis asked how she would deal with the conflict of interest between bringing business into the State versus the City.
Ms. Grubbs said she struggled with that because she does represent other communities. She said being a person of high ethics; she decided she would handle this on a case by case basis.
If it came to a point where representing Novi would be an issue for a project, she would excuse herself. She said she didnít know how that would play out because she was paid to represent Wixom, and other communities. On the other had, she said she was a half/full glass person; the glass was half full. She thought that her relationships with other communities could be helpful. The big trend was a regional approach, and she did have a lot of economic development relationships with the City of Detroit, as far as economic development with the Detroit economic growth. Ms. Grubbs said she had a lot of working relationships with Oakland County, Genesee County, and Macomb County. She thought the benefits would outweigh the occasional conflict that might occur. Ms. Grubbs said she struggled with that before filling out the application, and it almost kept her from doing it.
Member Gatt asked her for one thing she would do right now to help Novi bring more economic development to the City.
Ms. Grubbs said she would develop an attraction policy on how to attract businesses. She said that was a major component for all cities in the State to get involved in more actively.
She said that would take a group effort with direction from Council as to what types of attraction projects would fit the City of Novi, and develop a good strong policy that would encourage the type of growth that the Council and residents would want to happen in Novi. She thought that was the first order of the day for the EDC to strongly look at attraction.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello said being involved in the community and in her profession would obviously create conflicts. He said conflicts were good because it meant she knew what she was doing, and was involved. He didnít have an issue with conflicts at all. He asked by attracting business was she talking about marketing the City.
Ms. Grubbs said certainly marketing the City, and connecting with other attraction efforts that were going on at the State of Michigan, for example. She said they had global attraction efforts that she would like to connect with and focus more on Novi. She said they were connecting with bringing companies from China, and there was a major effort going on at the State level. They had, in the past, worked on taking companies to China and did business there. However, they found that Chinese companies wanted a presence here in Michigan. They are very new at it, and not as advanced as the Japanese are at locating and going global. She said they were growing companies that were doing very well, and that would be one target she would recommend. She noted there was a lot of attraction efforts going on that Novi could tie into.
Member Mutch said looking forward in terms of economic development from what she was seeing at the State level, nationally, and worldwide, what were the industries that would be the next wave, with the challenges that the automotive industry was facing, and where were the growth sectors that Novi needed to be thinking about in terms of economic development.
Ms. Grubbs said those had been identified, and she said they couldnít abandon the automotive industry; it was our lifeís blood, and there are many efforts to help and retain the automotive industry. Ms. Grubbs said Michigan was still the automotive capital of the world, and would remain so. However, the industry base still needed to diversify, and the targeted industries were State homeland security, bio science, next energy alternative fuel cell, and automotive. She said Oakland County had about ten that they had targeted as industries to go after. She said as an economic developer it had been exciting to be much more strategic in their
attraction and retention efforts. The first step was to identify all the companies that were not automotive, who had felt overlooked, and along with Oakland County, they had been seeking those companies. There are many of them who are viable, growing and doing quite well, and so now they are in the process of developing economic tools to help these companies. She said lab space, for example, most of them are small and donít have the resources to build lab space for research and development. She said they were making connections with the universities to partner with these companies. She said they just hired a new tech transfer specialist at the MEDC who was working with these companies. There was a major effort going on to grow these industries. She said Homeland Security was a no brainer for the State of Michigan. She noted when the Army decreased the head count they actually grew in Michigan, and that was a major industry for us along with live sciences and bio science.
Member Paul said looking at neighboring Oakland County and neighboring counties such as Wayne County, she noted that Novi lost Comau Pico to an attraction package. She asked what they could do differently.
Ms. Grubbs replied that package was not the Cityís fault. She said that was lost at the developer level, and there wasnít anything the City could have done to save it. The local developer was underbid by a much larger developer that had many more resources. She said when it got to that level there was nothing that government could do to influence it. She said they put everything on the table from a State and City perspective, and supported that project for the City of Novi. Unfortunately, the price of the developer was way low, and much less than the local developer could afford, and there was nothing anyone could have done. She said the problem with that type of company, and many others, was Novi had a local presence and the parent company was either out of State or overseas, and we had been such a victim of bad press with the automotive industry that companies were very reluctant to invest major amounts of money. She commented that was the major challenge. A lot of companies were coming up front and saying, for a particular project, they would consider tax abatement. She said they were in a very major competition with the south who were trying to take our companies, and were offering free land, etc. with their attraction projects. Ms. Grubbs said to be considered the tax abatement game would have to be played at some level.
Mayor Landry thanked Ms. Grubbs for stepping forward, and said Council appreciated someone of her talent being willing to spend her additional time in the City she lived in.
7:30 Robert A. Gatt Ė Zoning Board of Appeals; Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Mr. Gatt said he and his family had been contributing members of Novi their entire lives. He commented that he appreciated what the City of Novi offered him and other residents of the City. He felt the best way to contribute was to lend his talents and time to a Board or Commission. He felt the Zoning Board of Appeals had a big obligation to the City, as a major
contributing factor of businesses and citizens, and that was why he wanted to become a member of that Board.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello said of the two, ZBA and Parks, Recreation and Forestry, if he had a choice which would he pick.
Mr. Gatt replied he preferred the Zoning Board, as he had worked for 10 years in Parks and Recreation in Novi, and gave a lot of his time summers and evenings. He preferred the
Zoning Board because he felt he had acquired a lot of different talents over the past years with education and people.
Member Mutch said being a younger member of the City, from his perspective, what did he see as the big challenges facing the City over the next couple years.
Mr. Gatt thought the biggest challenge for the ZBA would be the signage issues, and he understood that Council would be working on those issues. He said there were businesses in Novi that were either hurting or being helped by different signage regulations and rules. He understood there was a decision made regarding Shiro due to construction, and a sign was put up, and it helped a very long standing restaurant in the City regain some advertisement they had lost because of other things the City had on its agenda. The growth of Novi compared to other locations was phenomenal. The younger population was moving here at a rapid rate, and the new businesses that were coming needed to be attractive to the younger population as well as the older population. He said that would be a big challenge for the City to collaborate with every generation, and decide what was best for everyone.
Member Paul said if he was appointed to the ZBA, and used his expertise from his school career and work career, what would be the most difficult situation he had faced, and how did he handle it.
Mr. Gatt said he worked for the Circuit Court in Oakland County and Pontiac in the adult treatment court, which was under Federal grants and the grants are in their sunset. Mr. Gatt said he had learned that the County would not pick up those grants. He commented he was the number two person in that program, and would be looking for placement elsewhere in the County. He said he was interviewing and submitting applications left and right trying to stay in the County, as he enjoyed working there. He noted he was facing a personal challenge right now. Mr. Gatt said he had obligations that would not go away because his job went away. On a day to day basis, with the treatment court, he dealt with people who had very challenging drug and alcohol problems, and they could be very challenging. He stated he had learned about dealing with people in very challenging situations, which was a big part of dealing with the Zoning Board. He noted there were a lot of citizens who have challenging situations, and donít know which way to turn, and the Zoning Board was there to help and guide them through the right decisions.
Member Margolis asked what kinds of skills, background, training, etc. he would bring to the ZBA that wasnít on the Board now or would really add to the Board.
Mr. Gatt responded he dealt with people in difficult situations, whether life, career, or living situations on a day to day basis. He felt the key to dealing with any situation was knowing
what they were going through. As a Zoning Board member, he would need to look at everyone elseís best interests as well, and what the effects would be for them short and long term. He said he had learned difficult and easy ways to step into that situation, and make the decision that was best for everyone.
Member Gatt said, interviewing his son, the ZBA dealt with the law and he grew up in a home where the law was very prevalent and prominent. He asked how he would handle a case where a resident had requested a deviation from the ordinance.
Mr. Gatt thought everyone coming before the ZBA would feel that they had a need for a particular situation, but the laws were there for a reason. However, laws could be changed through the ZBA, and he must look at the ordinance and see what the effect would be on other people. He understood that some decisions would be difficult, some that the applicant might not like, however the overall need of the people and the community was the most important part. He said the decision making process needed to be strict and stringent, and yet at the same time able to bend a little so that everyone could get the best out of the City.
Mayor Landry asked what he thought the most important quality of a ZBA member was.
Mr. Gatt replied honesty, able to see what needed to be done, make the decisions without a political agenda, and be able to look long term.
7:40 David Staudt Ė Economic Development
Mr. Staudt commented he had been a resident for 13 years, served on the Parks, Recreation and Forestry for the past three years, and was seeking an additional role here in the Economic Development Corporation. He noted he was currently serving on the business round table for Oakland Countyís Economic Development Committee, and also served as vice-chairman of the Woodward Avenue Action Association, which had a very significant economic development element to its operations. Mr. Staudt said he spent the weekend reading the minutes of the Economic Development Corporation from the past 5 Ĺ years. He thought it was time to replace the elegance of words with the urgency of action.
Member Gatt asked what was the first thing he would do to bring economic growth to Novi.
Mr. Staudt said there was no magic wand, and it was a tremendous amount of hard work. He said the first step was to actually begin to do something, and develop a plan. He had read a lot of plans over the weekend but they never seemed to get past the written word. Mr. Staudt said what he would bring to the EDC was the ability to do things, and move things forward. He said he was the COO of a Novi company, and had worked in the City for six months after an executive career outside of Novi. He said working in the community now he saw a lot of things going on that he never saw when not working here locally. He believed in picking some very specific projects and addressing those immediately. He said as soon as there was success with small projects, it was interesting how the bigger projects would start to fall in behind. He believed in starting somewhere, and starting soon.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked if his Economic Development Committee Business Round Table in Oakland County was a term position, and if so when would the term be up.
Mr. Staudt said it was not a term position. It was an annual appointment made by Oakland County Executive, L. Brooks Patterson. He was currently in his third term, and sat on several of their task forces. Mr. Staudt said that committeeís comprised of about 50 individuals of which about 20-25 were core participants on a month to month basis. They met monthly for about 1 Ĺ to 2 hours throughout Oakland County. He said it was a very influential group that made recommendations on an annual basis to L. Brooks Patterson, and he acted on them. It was one of the more successful round tables as they push certain things forward very hard. He said presently they were working on a program to educate individual communities, and City Councilsí on the benefits of economic development on business growth. There seemed to be
a feeling in Oakland County, in some areas, that businesses were not as desirable as they hoped they would be. He said they were putting together an RFP, and would have a major program to introduce to the cities and townships throughout Oakland County during the next year.
Member Mutch asked what his views were on what part government had to play in the development and retention of businesses in the community.
Mr. Staudt responded that government played a significant roll because it was behind the ordinances and the types of things that, in some cases, kept businesses out of the community. He felt strongly about having a business private partnership where local executives and business leaders worked together with elected officials and staff. He said he had gone to a lot of meetings with a company interested in relocating in this region, and all they are meeting are the government people. He said the business executives have nothing in common with the government folks, but they do have a lot in common with people who are working and living in the community. He thought their inner goal was to develop relationships that draw companies in. Itís the quality of life, the type of people, and the type of employees that are available that bring companies into a region. Mr. Staudt was talking about people from out of Michigan, and out of the country. He saw the government as having a role, but the EDC and like bodies was very important.
Member Paul asked what was the most difficult situation he encountered as an employee or in Parks and Recreation, and how had he handled it.
Mr. Staudt responded that difficult situations were an everyday part of work. However, the most difficult thing he faced frequently was the line disappearing between employee and employer, outside work and inside work. He said things such as cell phones and the internet made it difficult to keep employees eyes on the job when there were so many other things to distract them. It was critical when setting up a company and working with employees to provide them with new challenges on a regular basis. If that was done they wouldnít be bored and looking for web sites, e-mail or cell phones to get what they should be getting out of their business. He said he worked hard to make people feel as though they were involved in a lot of the decisions happening in business everyday.
Member Margolis asked how he saw the EDC working together with the Council and staff to make sure they were all going in the same direction.
Mr. Staudt replied the most important thing was that they were all going in the same direction.
He said EDC, as created was obsolete, and new tax laws primarily by the IRS, had changed the whole perspective. He said it was now the responsibility of the EDCís to recreate themselves. He said that might create a little tension with the City staff and Council, because when trying to recreate yourself you try to reach out, and try to do things that perhaps other people didnít expect you to do. Mr. Staudt said he had things in mind, and that shouldnít surprise anyone. He commented there needed to be a new focus, and a new energy, and he thought there were some really great projects. For example, there would be a widening of Grand River at some point, and he hoped the EDC could lead that, and really plan so those businesses on Grand River would never be compromised. He said they had years to think about this. He thought working with the staff and Council, the EDC should put in place plans
that when it does happen they would be in a good position to make sure those businesses donít suffer. He said he was a project oriented person, and looked for things specifically to do, and had a nice list of them that he would like to share with Council at some point.
Mayor Landry thanked Mr. Staudt for interviewing. He said if Mr. Staudt was appointed he would very much look forward to action. Mayor Landry said he would look forward to some pro-active and active projects. He remarked that he would love to see an active EDC that was out there soliciting input, taking a pro-active role in attracting businesses to the City, being a sounding Board for Council, and then coming back to Council and telling them what people are saying about Novi.
7:50 Mark Pehrson Ė Planning Commission
Mr. Pehrson said he was currently on the Planning Commission, and was reapplying for his position. He said he was very engaged with the Planning Commission, and it was a good group of people to work with. He commented he would like to see more movement than what they had done. He liked the interaction they had with other commissions, Council, and business leaders. Mr. Pehrson said he looked forward to, and if reappointed, would give the same vigor in the next three years.
Member Paul asked what had been the most difficult site or situation, regarding an ordinance, and how he handled it.
Mr. Pehrson said there were a number of ordinances that were challenging for the Planning Commission to maintain and pursue. Whether it was a gated community, or new and different ordinances they had to establish, being a part of the Implementation Committee, and having lived through the entire Providence Park Hospital process, it was an interesting, challenging, and ultimately a very fulfilling role because they had to create a new standard. They found that it was not an opinion they tried to offer, it was whether the developer fit within the confines of the ordinance. He said they often found that the ordinances didnít fit todayís environment. He felt being involved and able to make those changes so they fit the current needs of the City, was very challenging, and he looked forward to that as well.
Member Margolis asked him what he would like to see accomplished during his next term.
Mr. Pehrson said they had the opportunity to sit down with City Council and developers at large, and solicit their input. He thought they had a tremendous future to learn from other
communities that had gone through these growing pains without the proper planning or vision. He thought they had a unique ability and time frame to set aside some of that, to seek those answers, find some of those differences that would keep Novi on the forefront from an economic development standpoint, from a planning development, and from just bringing businesses into the community. He stated he would look for the Planning Commission and Department to become more active in seeking those answers so they could plan for the future. He said the fiscal development document that was created gave them a great roadmap to work from, and the direction to stop or discontinue some of the multiple family dwelling units that overpopulate the area now. He thought moving toward an OST kind of environment would certainly help. He noted they needed to take direction from Council, and plan for that in the things they did on the Commission.
Member Gatt asked if, in the last three years, there were any decisions or conclusions that the Planning Commission had come to that he wished they hadnít.
Mr. Pehrson answered that he didnít think they had come to any ill conceived conclusions. He said where they tried to rein themselves in was to understand the fact that they didnít make the policy. He said they enforce the code of the City. So, when they find an opportunity or a developer comes with a new or different approach, he would often table a project before making right or wrong decisions, to study it more closely to find what would be more beneficial to all the parties. He said he was encouraged to see that kind of spirit on the Commission currently.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked if there was some area in the ordinance, on particular types of projects, that he wished the Planning Commission had more authority to grant variances and waivers, so they would have the flexibility to work with a developer to come up with a better project.
Mr. Pehrson said the most concern from residents was relative to the type of zoning relative to the densities. He said density was a difficult issue to deal with. He said when people came in he would often refer to how important that was for different neighborhoods. Therefore, he would put his finger on the density currently.
Member Mutch said small residential developments concern him, because of the loss of woodlands. He asked Mr. Pehrson how he saw them adjusting the ordinances, and addressing those types of developments in a way that allowed some of the woodlands to be protected while dealing with the legal restrictions.
Mr. Pehrson said he did not support clear cutting. He said when Providence Hospital came to the Planning Commission to put their ring road in, he found it was an ultimate taboo to stand up, walk over to the developerís board, and offer advice as to how he might change the ring road so that it would protect additional trees. He said having learned that lesson he now sat and offered his comments verbally. He thought there were times when they gave a little too much carte blanche to some of the developers, just because of the name or the recognition they might have. He said all these people intend good will for what they are trying to do or for the City, and there was a balance point that one had to reach. He said he would like to see some of the ordinances rewritten to be more protective of wetlands and woodlands. He thought in just availing the developer of putting money into the Tree Fund didnít necessarily give them an exercise to go through to come up with best approach. He said that was kind of an easy out. He thought if a stipulation could be put in, for a certain percentage of some of the existing ordinances, it would be better for them and for the City.
Mayor Landry said he was familiar with Mr. Pehrson, and his work on the Planning Commission. He wanted everyone to realize that the Planning Commission was not the only task he offered to the people of Novi. He said there was one other and asked Mr. Pehron to tell everyone what that was. Mr. Pehrson said he was a paid on call firefighter. Mayor Landry asked how long he had been a paid on call firefighter, and Mr. Pehrson said 11 years.
8:00 Charles Staab Ė Parks, Recreation & Forestry; Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Staab said he had lived in Novi with his wife and three children for 26 years. He said in his family they stressed education, high goals, high achievement, etc. He believed that for the community he lived in too. He said Novi was a high quality community, and he thought they needed to strive to continue to fill out the parklands when opportunity presented itself, and to find alternative ways of funding to do this. He said he was President and Chairperson of the Novi Parks Foundation, which was formed in the last couple of years. He said they had come to a crossroads there in that the Naming Rights Policy information was fairly well complete, would be approved and put together next week at their meeting. He looked forward to alternative funding programs so they could continue to make the City great, and provide good quality parks and programs.
Member Mutch asked why he had put Parks and Recreation and ZBA on his application. Mr. Staab said he put it down because he was a strong believer of not standing in the way of any other quality people that come forward to help our City. He said when he was originally appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission his first choice had been ZBA. He commented he had always been intrigued by the zoning laws and ordinances in the City of Novi, admired the work they had done, and wouldnít shy away from being a member of that Commission.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked Mr. Staab why all of his references were out of the City when he had lived in Novi for 26 years.
Mr. Staab said his list of references were very dear friends of his. He stated he knew a lot of people in Novi, and there were so many he could name as references, but thought he would go outside of the community.
Member Gatt asked what Council could do to help him and the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission.
Mr. Staab replied to continue to listen to their needs, wants, and desires. He said they come forward with different recommendations of which way Council wanted them to go regarding expansion of land, upgrading the facilities and services, etc. He asked for their listening ear, and direction as to how they want to go forward.
Member Margolis asked what a resource was that the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission had for the Council that they were not currently using.
Mr. Staab said he knew Councilís time was valuable and busy. However, he felt the key was to always find time to have a joint meeting with the Council and Commission to hear what they had to say, and for them to present their plan so they could all go down the same road together.
Member Paul said $350,000 would go into Power Park this year, and they had a lot more to gather and put forward, and also, Community Sports Park. She asked him to comment on both parks and their needs.
Mr. Staab said Community Sports Parks was the jewel of the City, and he had always wanted to strive to make it the jewel of the City. He said it was not there yet, but was coming closer with the activities, and work done over the last few years with proper sprinkling, leveling of the land, fencing, etc. He said the key was to always make it safe for all participants. He said Power Park was old and needed to be updated. He thought it was a great park, and was functional but they wanted to make it even better to attract tournaments, have a better revenue source, etc., and make it another premiere site for active recreation.
Mayor Landry said the biggest accomplishments in Parks and Recreation in the last three or four years had been the Park Foundation. He said that was an absolute model for many of the other aspects of the City. He asked Mr. Staab how he saw the Parks Foundation working in conjunction with the City to develop the parks in the City.
Mr. Staab said the key was the Naming Rights, getting that kicked off, soliciting the monies, and selling the properties. He said they had alternative funding, within the City, to be used to bring the parks up to where they wanted them to be, to have the ability to upgrade where needed, etc., so they werenít always coming to Council with their hand out. He said he would like to wind their position down as much as possible from an overall funding standpoint, and divert it more into the foundation and grants. He felt that was the key to going forward. Mr. Staab said it was a 2006 problem for everybody. He said funding was being cut, and alternatives had to be found to provide the proper amenities to upgrade Novi to make it the City they wanted it to be.
8:10 Lowell Sprague Ė Zoning Board of Appeals; Economic Development
Mr. Sprague said he had lived in Novi with his wife and family for the last eight years. He said he had three years on the Planning Commission, and enjoyed the experience, and was looking for another way to serve the community.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked what he thought the toughest part of the ZBAís job was.
Mr. Sprague thought it was being consistent in decision making, being able to analyze what was being requested, balancing that against the regulations, and coming to a decision that could be made again and again. Also, he said, the decisions would have to be to the benefit of the community as a whole.
Member Gatt asked what Mr. Spragueís plan would be to attract more businesses to Novi if he were appointed to the EDC.
Mr. Sprague said the first thing the EDC should focus on was being pro-active in improving Noviís reputation within the business community. He said there are a lot of people who didnít want to bring their business to Novi because Novi had a terrible reputation. He said that reputation might have been well deserved in the past but he didnít think it was a fair reputation now, and nothing was being done to improve that. He said if talking to the developers in Novi theyíll say once itís figured out, things would be applied fairly and consistently, and they could move through. He thought that word needed to get out more. He thought they had to support building with timely inspections, and that the Building Department got the support it needed to do a good job.
Member Margolis asked with the dynamics between staff working on economic development, Council setting goals and holding staff responsible, and the introduction of the EDC, how did he see that relationship working so that everybody was moving in the same direction. She asked for his thoughts about making sure that was a smooth process.
Mr. Sprague replied it would be good to make sure the EDC established good communications with Council to be sure they were working in tandem. He thought Council was supposed to set the direction of the EDC, and it could take that ball and run with it, and work with the City staff to make those things happen. He said he looked at the structural relationships between the committees and the way they work, and he thought the EDC could bring that to life. He felt that needed to happen and it would be the most important role the EDC could play.
Member Paul asked Mr. Sprague to share what his career in accounting could bring to the EDC.
Mr. Sprague said his background and professional expertise was in accounting. However, he had been the Chief Financial Officer for a large health care organization for the last 18 years. Mr. Sprague said most of what he did on a daily basis was of a strategic nature then it was an accounting nature. He said the Finance Department reported to him and multiple other departments also reported to him. He commented that in that role the CEO set the strategic plan but he was involved in all of that. He said he did all of the public financings, and all the financial analysis around that. Mr. Sprague said now his organization was the largest physician provider in Washtenaw County. He said where they put physicians, what kind of physicians would be recruited, how they would be funded to get up and running, and how it fit in the overall health care system of that county was very important, and that was the type of work he dealt with, rather than whether the books were closed.
Member Mutch asked between the EDC and the ZBA what his preference would be and why.
Mr. Sprague said he didnít have a strong preference, and would find them both interesting. He thought his skills and background would serve on both effectively. He commented that his primary motivation was that he enjoyed public service, and would like to be involved in that again. He thought his business background, education and experience applied well to the EDC, and also felt that and his Planning Commission experience would apply well to the ZBA.
Mayor Landry said Member Mutch asked his question, and thanked him for his time.
8:20 David Greco Ė Economic Development; Planning Commission, ZBA
Mr. Greco said he had lived in Novi for three years with his wife and children. He said he applied for the three positions, but realized today that he had a conflict with serving on the Planning Commission on Wednesday evenings. Therefore, he would have to withdraw that from consideration. Mr. Greco said he was currently the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Taylor, and that was something new he had taken on this year. He commented he started off filling in and doing prosecutorial duties at the court, which then blossomed into meetings with the Mayor and the EDC, which moved into many projects, which he found absolutely fascinating. Mr. Greco said when he saw that Novi was accepting applications, he thought it was time to get involved in the community.
Member Margolis asked Mr. Greco what his background brought to an EDC, and what he thought he could offer in that sense.
Mr. Greco said he put in for EDC because he was a citizen, and obviously had an interest in the economic development of the City. He commented he had an economics degree from his undergraduate years, but that was a long time ago. He said, with respect to his background, he was not coming here with an agenda other than getting involved in the community. He felt with his background, being involved with ordinances and as a prosecutor not only dealing with tickets and DUIís but the ordinance enforcement, and the practical aspects of doing that, would be an asset to the community. He said they had implemented some changes that he had initiated over the last couple of months. He said he didnít have the background that Ms. Grubbs had but it was something he was interested in as a citizen of the City of Novi.
Member Paul asked what had happened in his professional or personal experience that had been difficult, and how he handled it.
Mr. Greco said in his professional career dealing with difficult issues, he started off doing mostly employment and commercial litigation at the firm. He was recruited by one of the medical malpractice attorneys, and he told them he was not really interested in doing that. A couple of weeks later he kept pushing, and Mr. Greco said he would work on a few cases. He said getting involved in those cases was very interesting and dealing with the level of people they dealt with, at his law firm at Sommers Schwartz, who had been devastated by different things. He said they had a very selective case load, and in trying to convey to them what was available, and what was reasonable under the law, given the unreasonable circumstances that many of them were in. For example, children who need a lifetime of care, watching people who were once vibrant individuals in their 40ís live out their life with their family taking care of them and wiping their chin. Mr. Greco said that was very difficult to deal with as an adversary, and a representative, when youíre the one that they are clinging to and looking to for advice to make sure that they were taken care of. He said moving from that into municipal litigation and law, he felt he had a broad range of experience.
Member Mutch asked what were the things about Novi that attracted him and his family, and what would he like to see happen in the Novi community that would keep him here, and bring in other families.
Mr. Greco said he was originally from New York, and after law school he got a job at his law firm in Southfield. He said he had relatives here and an Uncle who lived in Novi. His Uncle raised his family here, his children went through the Novi schools, and the life he was living was very attractive to Mr. Greco when looking to buy a house. He said they quickly became interested in Novi when talking to the realtors about the planning, and the issues that had gone on with Novi, and that was why they chose Novi. He thought Novi had an extraordinary mix of stores and retail space, and when coming down Taft Road and Addington Lane there wasnít a sense of how much business was in Novi. He thought that was a credit to the planning and the community in general. He thought Novi was an exceptional place to live.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked if it was the Wednesday night commitment that made him withdraw from the Planning Commission. Mr. Greco said he was committed to something else every Wednesday of the month.
Member Gatt said Mr. Greco had answered every question he had.
Mayor Landry said, to Mr. Greco, that it was not easy to explain Torte Reform to someone whose family had been devastated by professional negligence. Mr. Greco said it was very difficult, and he had written a piece in the Free Press that was published March 28th. The article was regarding some of the Federal Tort Reform issues, which were inapplicable to Michigan because Michigan already had Tort Reform.
Mayor Landry said every Council member appreciated every candidateís willingness to come forward. He said there were obviously more candidates than spots open, and if any candidate was not appointed this time, he encouraged them to not lose interest. He asked them to please come back.
Mr. Greco said he also put Economic Development and the Zoning Board, and noticed there were many other Boards that were not very popular on the list. He said he would be interested to serve on any Board that had an opening.
8:30 Lester London Ė Planning Commission; Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. London said he was new to Novi and had lived in the City for nine months. He firmly believed that if a part of any group you had to participate, hold office, and work with and for the group. Mr. London said he used to teach government, and one of the first things he taught his students was that government and politics was an honorable profession. They were taught that it was their responsibility to participate in government activities.
Member Margolis said Mr. London had Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals on his list.
Mr. London said he saw a lot of empty territory as he drove around Novi. He thought it was important that plans be developed for good use of the land. He said Council had to do that, and then the Commissions would carry out the wishes of the Council.
Member Paul asked Mr. London what he had seen, being new to the community, that was a good development, and one he thought could use improvement.
Mr. London said he couldnít answer that question because he didnít know enough about what had been developed yet.
Member Mutch asked, being a resident of Fox Run, what did he see the Fox Run community bringing forward to the Novi community that would allow them to contribute.
Mr. London said it was at a meeting at Fox Run that he learned about this meeting. He said it was a great place to live; itís safe, and very well organized. He said people are kind, generous, very friendly, and itís a good place to finish a good life.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked if there were other residents of Fox Run that would be interested in becoming involved in the community. Mr. London said he didnít know if anyone else participated or not.
Member Gatt asked if there was one interesting fact in his life that drove him to volunteer for a commission like this.
Mr. London thought it was important to participate if youíre a part of a group. He said he lived in Farmington for 17 years, and was on the Board of the Historical Commission and a volunteer at the library.
Mayor Landry asked what Mr. London thought Novi had to offer to seniors who were considering where they would to live.
Mr. London said he didnít know enough about the City yet, and was hoping to learn more. He thought Fox Run picked a good spot.
Member Paul asked Mr. London if he would be interested in serving on the Historical Commission in Novi.
Mr. London said he didnít know enough about the history of Novi but would be willing to work on any commission.
8:40 Brian Burke Ė Planning Commission
Mr. Burke said he presently served on the Parks and Recreation Commission. He commented he enjoyed his service there, but saw there was an opportunity to serve on the Planning Commission, and have a real impact on the future build out of Novi.
Member Paul asked Mr. Burke if there had been something that was difficult on the commission or in his professional career, and how he handled it.
Mr. Burke said what came to mind was that the Parks and Recreation Commission had thought there was an urgent need to get Power Park done so it could bring in baseball and softball tournaments. However, in its present state it was not possible, and it was not a big draw for them yet. He said since it was in the backyard of City Hall, he thought it was important, and they discussed how they would ever be able to finish Power Park. He said one of the most difficult things in dealing with that was having to deal with the budget. After discussing capitol improvement projects they wanted to do, and the need to get it done as soon as possible, they decided it had to be played out over four or five years because of budgetary concerns.
Member Mutch asked if there were any projects, he had looked at around town, that he wondered what the Planning Commission and City Council was thinking.
Mr. Burke said looking at density, we continue to build the R8, R7 and R6ís in a very dense population, and he wondered how much taxation was that putting on the infrastructure, and how would they sell all the condos. He thought they could look at a little less density, and there were some subdivisions that were interesting to say the least.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked why there were no references.
Mr. Burke said he sent over the correction to the City Clerk, and if Council hadnít gotten it he would see Council received it right a way.
Ms. Cornelius said they were at Councilís place this evening, and they were e-mailed. Mr. Burke said he faxed over a corrected copy.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello asked him who his references were.
Mr. Burke said Mayor David Landry, Chief of Police Dave Molloy, and Tom Holzer.
Member Gatt said Mr. Burke had a willingness and ability to make things happen for the City staff when it came to cars for parades. He said Tom Holzer was always involved, and he thought Mr. Burke always had a hand in it. He said Mr. Burke had his full support.
Member Margolis asked what he learned serving on the Parks and Recreation Commission that he could bring to the Planning Commission.
Mr. Burke said he could bring practical application, common sense, learning to understand what the other commission members were thinking, and not to summarily dismiss it because it might not be what he believed or envisioned. He said and the ability to piecemeal, take a little bit from everybody, and try to bring that together in one movement going forward.
Mayor Landry said Mr. Burke was always willing to serve the City, and Council was appreciative of that and his willingness to step forward and offer his services in this capacity.
8:50 Jay Dooley Ė Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Mayor Landry said Mr. Dooley was out of town on business and unable to be present this evening.
Council recessed at 8:52 P.M.
Council reconvened at 9:00 P.M.
9:00 Study Session immediately following final interview - Presentation from Novi
Library Board Re: Library Improvements
Bob Cutler, President of the Library Board, Library Board members, and some staff members were present. Mr. Cutler said in the three years he had been on the Library Board he kept hearing that they didnít keep the City Council informed, and that the Council didnít trust the Novi Library Board to run a library construction program. He said he would try to correct these issues by keeping the Council informed on a regular basis about progress and major decisions. Secondly, he intended, while working the Plant Moranís Cresa Group, to use his 30 years experience as a project engineer so that any renovated/expanded library project proceeded on schedule and within budget. In addition, during the design phase, he intended to use volunteer parents to assist in the design of the children and youth sections, and the same idea for the adult sections utilizing baby boomers, seniors and a representative from the ADA. He said the Friends of the Library would also be called upon to assist in the design of a Friends Room. Mr. Cutler said the current space of 23,000 square feet was the smallest per capita in south east Michigan. He said without the expansion to 60,000 sq. ft. the Library
couldnít provide the recommendations specified by the 2004 Strategic Task Force. He said, when completed, his goal was to have a library that represented the desires of the Novi residents. The proposed construction was $16 million, and the estimated average millage rate would go from .299 to .342 over the life of the 20 year bond. The impact on the average property owner was estimated to be $29.93 to $68.40 for property valued at $175,000 to $400,000. He said the requested millage would be for construction only. He noted that they had established five committees, communications, finance, facilities, fundraising, and Human Resources. Mr. Cutler said the document prepared by Plante Moran, and provided to Council and City staff, detailed the reduction of the early construction estimates from $18 million plus to $16 million. He said to ensure that there would be no unexpected costs there would be external side checks and internal asbestos checks. He displayed the drawing of the original portion of the library plus the addition, the aerial view, site option for parking, and the book return. Mr. Cutler also displayed the future population growth and the building size for the future. He said there was very little space left for chairs and books. As part of the infrastructure, it would be designed for 60,000 sq. ft. but when necessary they would be able to add another 30,000 square feet on top of the building if the population continued to grow as anticipated. He commented, referencing the Plante & Moran report, currently the population was younger than the county and State average, and therefore, they had to build according to the needs of todayís community. He said 10 or 15 years from now the function of the space might change and if more space was needed they would have it. The whole idea was not to penalize the current population by building 90,000 sq. ft. right now. He said that would be for the future Council, administrations, and residents to decide if necessary. Mr. Cutler said currently they could not provide quiet study areas to many of the 800 people using the Library daily, and they had to turn residents down when requesting meeting room space as they are out of space.
Mayor Landry stated there would be a bond proposal before voters next November for the purpose of capital funds to build a Library.
Member Mutch asked Mr. Schultz to explain the process so that everyone would be clear on what steps needed to take place and when.
Mr. Schultz said the process as outlined in the memo is, since this would be a bond issue, was the City pledging its full faith and credit for essentially backing a bond issue somewhere between $14 and $16 million. He said obviously the Library doesnít have those kinds of funds, so the proposal was for the City to front the money for construction to be paid back, over the years, through a bond issue. He said the process was for the City, at this meeting, to discuss whether or not it was interested in that method of funding the Library. If it was they needed to tell the Library Board to go forth and do what they needed to do in order to make this happen. It would start with an initial contact for bond counsel to be retained, and a financial adviser to be retained to put together a package and start the process to put this issue on the ballot. He said the City couldnít just issue General Obligation bonds as they have to be approved by the voters. It would involve a ballot question, which would be prepared by the bond counsel and the financial advisor with the Finance Department also being involved. He said in the next several weeks the Library Board would have to firm up exactly what dollar amount it was asking the City to assist with funding. It would come back to the City for formal approval of ballot language for the voters to vote on in the November election. Mr. Schultz said what the Library needed from Council tonight or the next meeting, June 19th, would be an indication that Council was interested in going forward with the ballot proposal, and an indication as to who
they would be interested in being the bond counsel or financial advisor. If they get to that point, there would be kind of a lull followed by some actual ballot language that would come back to the Council in either July or August for a final approval on what the request was, what the ballot language would be, and a formal indication that Council agreed to go through with the process, and put that on the ballot in the November election. He said tonight or June 19th would be an indication of whether or not Council wanted to start that process.
Member Mutch asked who would hire the bond counsel and financial advisor.
Mr. Schultz said indirectly it was the Council. He said Council had to approve it, and all of the costs of getting the proposal onto the ballot were part of the total financial and finance package. He said Council would have to approve who was used as bond counsel. This would be the Cityís funding of the construction; so all of these were directly or indirectly Council decisions.
Member Mutch asked if the Library Board would have the expectation that they would bring forward a recommendation, or was that something that would come from the City. Mr. Schultz said it was a joint process. He said the Library Board had worked with bond counsel in the past, and there were a couple of firms that provided that service, and the financial advisor service. He didnít think the City staff had a recommendation as to whom the Council might approve. If the Library Board had a choice or a preference, he thought they should be prepared to indicate who that was and why. Member Mutch asked if the ballot language would be drafted by Mr. Schultzís office. Mr. Schultz replied it was typically done by the bond counsel as part of their process, and his office would review it. Member Mutch asked if Council would have final say on the ballot language. Mr. Schultz said it does, and one of the reasons they liked to have bond counsel do it was that it could be tricky, and they wanted to be sure that someone could stand behind that language should it be unsuccessful or was found not to be an appropriate statement of a question. He said Council would want someone who could say it was legal and it would pass muster. Member Mutch commented there was discussion about the project management of the proposal if this was approved by the voters, and he wanted to know who would hire the project management firm, and who would handle the interaction between them and the people doing the construction. Mr. Schultz said that would be a decision the Council needed to weigh in on and give approval to. He said this was Councilís full faith and credit on the line, and Council should be comfortable with those funds once they are committed and in use. Mr. Schultz said Council absolutely had a say on who the project manager ought to be, whether the Board, a professional, etc. Member Mutch asked if that would require a legal agreement between Council and the Library Board in terms of delegation of authority. Mr. Schultz said not necessarily, but it might not be a bad idea to have some sort of understanding as part of the overall agreement, and Library Board approval and with whatever entity they went with.
Member Margolis said she spent a great deal of time on the Library Board. She said she believed in libraries and in their importance. She noted there was no question that this community deserved and needed a new Library. She said when she walked into the library she was stunned. She said she was very much in favor of library expansion. She said she did believe in the process, had worked toward this, and had pledged $25,000 to the library effort. She appreciated the Boards work, thought the proposal was reasonable, lean, and had gone through the process of asking the community what they were interested in, had gone through a building process, and came back with a very lean and fiscally conservative estimate. She was
pleased that Plante & Moran was used to look at the numbers. Member Margolis said her concerns about the proposal were in the ability of the library director to foster the relationships in the City, and to market the library as a whole. She said one of the things she pushed for the whole time she was on the Board was the importance of the library understanding public relations, marketing, and the importance of getting partners involved. She said her challenge was trying to decide whether letting the library go forward with this proposal was the best thing. She felt that in these economic times it would be a tough sell, and she was concerned that the groundwork had not been done to get it to pass. If it didnít pass, she was concerned there wouldnít be another chance. Member Margolis was hoping to see a marketing message to the community, and there wasnít one. She looked through the information, and Plante Moran recommended getting champions and partners in the community, and she hadnít seen that. She thought this was a good plan for expansion of the Library but her questions were about the kind of relationships the director had fostered.
Member Margolis said the Library Board hired a fundraising consultant that worked very closely, did some great production of materials for the library, worked with the volunteer community, did training, and left a lot of information, plans, and prospects. The consultant left in December, and left a report that spoke about there being $400,000 to $600,000 worth of prospects in the community for fundraising. Last December the Library Board passed a resolution requiring that the director devote staff time to that fundraising effort. Member Margolisí question was what specifically had happened since December with that effort and the staff time that was devoted, and what were the results of that effort.
Brenda Lussier, Library Director, said since December time had been devoted to determine what the future use of the Walker Fund would be in terms of being able to be specific with all donors that the intention of that gift, in the past, had been designated as construction. At this point, it looked as though it wouldnít be completely dedicated as construction. She said during the time period the fund raising was going on the Library had the opportunity to bring in fundraising expertise. She was displaying a chart and said it began in July 2004, and indicated the success of fundraising for many months without a building plan.
Member Margolis said the Board instructed the director, in December, to devote staff time to the fundraising effort. She asked what, specifically, had happened in the fundraising effort and what were the results since January.
Ms. Lussier said what happened in the fundraising effort was the honorary chairperson declined to participate thinking that there was no Council support for a future bond proposal. She said that was based on a meeting that she and the Board president had with the Mayor who said he could not support the bond proposal. She said her thinking, at that point, was if there was no bond proposal there was no project for people to give to passionately, and they didnít have something to show them. She said the commitment made to people throughout the printed materials was that they were asking for a gift in advance of a millage election in November 2006. Ms. Lussier said since that time, if there was not going to be a millage proposal in November 2006, they didnít have a concrete project that they were informed they must have for a successful and ethical fundraising. She said the Library Board then began discussing changing the purpose of the fund, which was a very difficult thing to ask people to donate to if itís a project transitioning from one purpose to another. She said it was very difficult and complex to explain to them what the goals would be for an effective fundraising campaign. In that regard, the whole shift of fundraising went from what the Library Board had
claimed to do all along was private fundraising in 2005, and public fundraising in 2006. She said public fundraising would tie together the private dollars earned during the match with the public.
Member Margolis said then basically the answer to what had happen since January was nothing and no results. Ms. Lussier said there had been a change in the direction of the Walker Fund. Member Margolis said last month the Board asked her to make an approach to the Walkers, and ask them that because they felt it was the best chance of getting the bond proposal passed. She said the reality was that came up in the last month or so, and that still left 4 to 5 months for fundraising. Member Margolis said Gregg Chapman was Chair of the committee when she resigned in early January because she was concerned about the lack of focus and progress in fundraising. She said when she left he had offered to work on a marketing plan for the library, for fundraising, for the need for a library, and to produce a video to market the need for a new library. She asked what had happen regarding that since then.
Ms. Lussier said Mr. Chapman resigned shortly after Member Margolis as the sense was if there was not support of City Council, he was not going to invest in the a project. She said there needed to be leadership from Council saying this was a viable project in order to have volunteers step forward and offer to raise funds. Ms. Lussier said they lost their honorary chair, Nancy Cassis, who had discussions with Council members, and said it didnít look like the time for her to be involved in this project.
Member Margolis said she asked Kathy Crawford to step forward, and work with a group of women who were working on the Town Hall Committee to fundraise for the community. She thought the women were very influential. They stepped forward and did it on their own. She asked what had been done by the Library to keep those women involved, and vested in this campaign since the Town Hall series ended. Ms. Lussier replied they needed to have a project to ask for their support, and at this point there wasnít a project. She said they were coming to Council tonight with a proposal, and should the Council support it and offer the City a chance to vote on this, then they would have a project for several groups to support. Member Margolis said during her three years on the Library Board, these were the kinds
of answers she received. First it was they didnít have a library, then it was they didnít have a plan, and now it was they didnít have a plan. She said Ms. Lussier was present tonight to ask the Council to consider a building plan. Member Margolis said to say there was no plan for the library was a little frightening to her because they have a plan that would be very easy to sell. Member Margolis said she had gone out as part of the fundraising effort and made requests, and had a great deal of success just asking people to donate. She commented she was very conflicted as to what she should do to best guarantee there would be a library in this community, and that was what she would be looking at in the next week. Member Margolis said if anyone who was a supporter of the library, and wanted to talk with her about where she was, and what needed to be done, she would be more than happy to do that. She commented that she would be glad to gather as much information in the next week as possible because she had real concerns about the kind of plan that Plante & Moran said needed to be done there, and the champions that need to be there to get this passed. Ms. Lussier said, to clarify, that there was a building plan but there was no commitment that this would be on a ballot, and people needed to have that information in order to galvanize behind it. She said there was a plan but now they needed the political plan that put it in front of the voters, and thought they were present to request that from City Council.
Member Paul noted she had three children, and two of them used the library much more, and would go to the quiet study sessions. She said many times they would meet with a tutor, and the tutor would have to call in the morning just to try to reserve a quiet room in the afternoon. She said this was something that she saw as a need. When her children were very little and they would attended different functions it was packed, and they had to come early and have a ticket that would be by color so that group would be let in, because there were only so many that could be let in. She said the biggest marketing tool was Miss Margie because everyone in the kids program knew her, and thatís who the kids related to. Member Paul thought Miss Margie knew everyone in the community by name, and she had a gift. She suggested they use that marketing tool to the best of their ability. Member Paul said if Ms. Margie was speaking in classroom, or information was sent home, her name and face should be on every piece of literature. She said there were some very serious issues with the last library bond. She was happy that some of those were not being repeated such as the millage never ended once the construction was paid for, and that was a huge problem with the last bond. Secondly, they missed the absentee voters and they change elections, and they had many times. She said they had to look at their population. They have friends in the library that are vested in this community and had been in Novi for years, and they would be their best marketing tools. She said she also saw some strong improvements. The $2 million reduction that Mr. Sturing had worked on was extremely positive. She said one of the things the schools had done very successfully was they met with groups of people with questions such as those frequently asked regarding if a resident had a $100,000 home, this is what they would pay in additional taxes per year, and this was an investment to the community and this was what it would add to the retail value of their home. Member Paul said those things spoke volumes to the Novi School District and every bond they had passed. She was concerned about the neighboring communities that had failed bonds, one for school, and one for the Library. She asked if the amount could be reduced even more, and make this a very nice library but not the most grand. She said special features could be added in the future. Member Paul said we are dead last in economic recruitment to the State, and not doing as well as other states. She said they needed to look at how many people were exiting this State, and it was number one unemployment, and those were real numbers they had to consider. Member Paul said she
was very much in favor of putting this on the ballot. She said it was not her decision but was every single taxpayer, and she had shared that with many of the people that had asked her. She hoped they would be very cognizant of what every member was saying, and try to be good at their marketing tools, and focus on a strategic plan to move this forward. This plan had been in the works for about 10 years. So either raise this project or talk about other ways to help the library. Member Paul said with all those meeting room problems, quiet study areas, and the financial burden of this community they had to weigh whatís best, what needed to be included in the library and what needed to be looked at in the future. She said something that had come up in budget discussions had been why the City as a whole had everyone purchase paper and supplies under one group because they get a better discount. She would like to have the library participate in that same capacity. She said on some things they do work together with the City, but on many things they do not. She said every little thing the City purchased for the library would save them money. She asked that they address this at one of the Board meetings, and share with Council how they could save money in their library, and that would help Council to continue to see how they were working as a group to improve saving money for our taxpayers. She said that would help her too, to share with residents when they ask questions the little things they are doing that could add up to big things.
Member Gatt said everyone knew that Michigan was facing the worst economic times in a long time, and thought it would get worse. Therefore, he thought they picked the worst time imaginable to come to the voters and ask for an increase in taxes. Mr. Gatt said, on top of that, this meeting would not help public relations. He said people asked him why the Library canít raise money or do this or that. Member Gatt agreed 100% with Member Margolis that the City needed and deserved a new library, not a Taj Mahal, but a basic expansion with room for growth when economic conditions got better. He said it was up to the Board to figure out the public relations remedy. He thought it was a problem that was very obvious to anyone present or watching on television, but it would be up to them to decide how they would fix it.
Mayor Pro Tem Capello said the expansion for the library had been around for a while, and the community had lost interest because it hadnít gone anywhere. He said the cost was somewhere between $4 and 10 per month, and overall it was not a lot of money. He was in favor or doing something with the library. He felt that if they did it they should do it right, because residents were entitled to a quality building, and not something just slapped together to have some type of an addition. He commented that he didnít think the timing was right just now, and thatís unfortunate because he thought they had some of the best talent on the Board to do something in regard to construction. Mayor Pro Tem Capello said he hoped they didnít lose that talent when they go to build. He said he didnít think it could be pulled together in time for this November, based on past actions, to get it approved. If it wasnít approved now he was afraid it would be several years before it could be brought back to the voters again. Mayor Pro Tem Capello would hate to see it get jammed down the voters throats for this November, and lose, and not have the opportunity to come back.
Mayor Landry said unquestionably Novi needed another library. He said the building was from the early 1970ís and was not built initially solely to house the library. Its 35 years old and the infrastructure is not there. Clearly, in his opinion, Novi needed a better library, and he had always said that. He said he served on the Strategic Planning Task Force in 2003 and 2004, and was one of the presenters when the results of the task force were presented to the Library Board. Mayor Landry was concerned because a Library Bond in 1999 was presented to the
public and it didnít pass, and he didnít want to see this go on the ballot and not pass, because it thatís done it just gets ingrained in the taxpayer. He was interested in having it on the ballot
if it would pass. He said, for that reason, he had discussions with many people, and with the Library Director, Ms. Lussier, and indicated that the problem they have with the library bond was that the library, to some people, wasnít looked upon as an essential service. Mayor Landry said that was a marketing problem they must address. He said they had to be very careful how this was presented to the public. He didnít think it could be presented to the public as holding a hand out and saying the taxpayers should pay for it all. He said they needed to raise some dollars, get some big hitters in the community, like large corporations, to donate $50,000 or $100,000. Mayor Landry said they needed to get some personalities and very well known local celebrities involved behind this proposal. Then present it to the public by saying they werenít being asked to pay for it all, just a part of it, and that private people and businesses were investing, itís a partnership, and they were asking the public to invest in the future of our children and the future of all of us. Mayor Landry was concerned about whether any of that had been acted on. He said there had been comments by Ms. Lussier about a conversation he had with her. He said because he was disappointed in the lack of fundraising over the last year, he requested a meeting and called Ms. Lussier on January 26, 2006. He went to the library and told Ms. Lussier that he wanted to meet with her, and she asked if Bob Cutler could attend and Mayor Landry said yes. Mayor Landry told them he was on the task
force and had been a supporter of the library, but was very disappointed by the lack of fundraising and carrying through the planning of the Strategic Task Force. He told them, therefore, that if the question were to come up tomorrow to put this on the ballot he would vote no, this was in January. However, he told them, if they wanted his support and his vote he expected them to have a fundraising plan, and how much would be raised each month. Mayor Landry said they had from January until to November to show him a plan, and he had seen nothing. Mayor Landry said he had not been contacted and he had seen nothing. He said now he heard tonight that there had been no fundraising because the Mayor said he wouldnít support it. He said what he said was "show me your fund raising plan and youíll get my vote". He said if you look at the Strategic Planning Task Force, page 6 and Goal #5, "develop and refine short term 6 to 12 months, mid term 1 to 3 years and long term funding strategies". Mayor Landry asked where the funding strategies were. In 2004, the Strategic Planning Task Force that he was on set forth the road maps, and it had not been done. He said Council was hearing tonight that they didnít raise money because the Mayor and City Council were not behind it. Mayor Landry said after the State of the City address he was approached by the newly appointed fundraiser, and Mayor Landry was asked to do some video spots on Channel 13 for the Library, and he said he would be happy to do it, but he hasnít heard from anyone since. He asked what was going on. He was waiting for the information and was not getting it. Mayor Landry said the binder presented to them showed the next steps to get the bond passed on page 37. "1) Library Board meets with Plante Moran, 2) identifies final projects size, 3) meet with local leaders and community members to become project champions." Mayor Landry asked who the project champions were, and had been saying that for the last couple of years. Where are they? He was hoping to see them and a presentation tonight, and that they would tell Council who the project champions were. Mayor Landry said paragraph 4B "Library Board needed to find individuals to come and speak on behalf of the library to the Council, school superintendent, chamber members, and president of the PTA, to support it. He asked if they were present. Mayor Landry said Novi clearly needed a library and he didnít want it to fail, but he didnít see any of this being followed up on. He said what he did see was the library saying they were going to the people to ask them to fund it. Mayor Landry said if that
was what they wanted to do he would not stand in their way, but he thought they were making a big mistake, and he would not vote no. He said he would vote yes to put this on the ballot but he warned them to think about it; because if it wasnít done right, there wouldnít be another chance. He noted he personally spoke with the director, he had said this publicly, and spoke to the then fundraising chairman, and had not received any information, and tonight weíre hearing that the fundraiser quit because he didnít get support by Council. Mayor Landry said when he talked with the fundraiser he told him he would support him. He would like to know who he was talking to because he wasnít aware that he had talked with any of the Council members. He said the question was asked "what efforts had been put forth from December until now and the answer was nothing, because they couldnít do it until they get a proposal and Council puts it on the ballot. Mayor Landry told them they knew all along the ballot would never be approved until a couple of months before the election. The Strategic Planning Task Force was dated in 2004, and the Walker Challenge Grant was given two years ago. Mayor Landry said he would vote yes when the time comes but advised them to think hard. We need a library. He told them not to let time make them make a hasty decision. There are people present tonight who had worked years on this, and your sitting back there saying to yourself that it canít wait for another election, and he didnít blame them for thinking that. Mayor Landry asked them to please think about this. It had to be done right because he didnít think they would have another chance at it, and to say that itís City Councilís fault that they had not raised money, come on think about it.
Member Mutch said this was not the direction he thought this meeting would go and was surprised at what he was hearing from fellow Council members. He said he had worked at the library, and served on the Library Board when the process was started. He had also served on one of the Board committees that were involved in the latest round of proposals that had come forward for this building project. Member Mutch said he was quite confident in saying that the lack of achievement that happened at various points along the way was not due, in part, to the library administration or library staff as had been suggested. He was shocked that Council members were referring to our library administration as a PR problem that needed to be addressed. Member Mutch said the Libraryís record of service spoke for itself. It was considered one of the most highly rated services provided by the City in surveys of residents. He said the library services continued to grow each year, despite the obvious short comings of the current facility. He said being in the library profession and seeing dozens of libraries, he knew that staff worked and provided services in a library that was much less than ideal. He wanted to talk about specifics. First, the Walker Fund was a commitment made by the Library Board with the Walker family whereby the Walkers would donate a million dollars, and then offer to the library another million dollars if the library was able to match it. He said that was not a commitment between the library director and the library staff. He said it was a commitment made by the Board. He said, in all his experience, Boards were responsible for fundraising efforts, and staff was there to assist and support. However, this delegation of responsibility for the fundraising failures onto the staff was uncalled for. Member Mutch said the record and the graphics speak for themselves. The Board failed to meet its fundraising goals and failed to make that match, and the Board was ultimately responsible. He said the Board failed to take full advantage of the Walker match. It was unfortunate, they had the resources and the professional fundraising, had spent quite a bit of money, and it didnít happen. He said that was over and done with and they were not going to rewrite history and point the finger in other directions. Member Mutch said he sat on a committee where the Board was involved, and a number of the Board members sat on the same committee developing a proposal that at one time proposed trading properties with the school district. He said decisions made by the Board members resulted in months of delay, time wasted and opportunity lost. He said he wasnít supportive of moving the library to another location but was willing to give the Board the opportunity but it didnít happen. He thought there had been efforts to point fingers at the School Board having been responsible for that, but that was not the case. The School Board asked for information from the Library Board, and the Library Board whether because of inability to make a decision or foot dragging, took too long and the School Board finally said they were not interested in the proposal. He noted that the fact that they were meeting tonight was a decision of the Library Board, but he didnít understand why they waited until June to present a proposal that would go on the ballot in November. He said they needed to assemble a fundraising committee, and an election committee to go out and sell this proposal to the community. He said this should have been a part of the latest budget discussions. Member Mutch said there were alternatives that Council could have considered in terms of the millage rate, such as rolling back the City millage a little so if voters approved this it would be a wash in terms of their tax bill. He commented that was something he would have thought considered, as a City Council, to show good faith from the Cityís side and to support this proposal. However, the Library Board chose to wait, and now weíre trying to make a decision that he felt was too late in the process. Member Mutch thought it was important to know that it was the Boardís decision to change the purpose of the Walker Fund, and to take that money that people like him and others in the community had contributed with the idea that it was going towards the building, and not to repurpose it towards operations. He said that delayed the process. He asked how that could not be a hindrance to fundraising efforts when
people who had already donated are watching their money turn in another direction, and people who potentially would be asked to donate are being told the money was not going toward the fireplace or the quiet study room; it would pay the gas bill. He said that was what was being proposed, and that was a decision of the Board, which resulted in a delay, and had probably delayed their getting to this point. He said those were all choices that the Library Board made. Member Mutch said as a Council member, he had always wanted to give as much independence and authority to the Library Board as possible because he thought legally it was correct, and it was the best way for them to operate within the context of the City government. However, giving them that authority also meant giving them that responsibility, and their responsibilities cannot be passed onto staff when they have a role to play in that process. He commented he knew there were some new Board members, who were not a part of this process, and he was not there to point fingers at individual members of the Board, but he thought the Board needed to recognize their role in this process, and how they got to this point. He said as far as the Library proposal that was before Council, he was pleasantly surprised by the numbers that came forward. He said having just gone through a building project at a library in the last couple of years he knew they were expensive, especially with a building that was 35 years old. He said they would be forced to take the building down to the steel and rebuild everything new and according to code. He said if they were building a building for the next 50 years, he thought saving a million dollars to reduce the millage rate by a fractional part of a mil probably didnít make sense or cents in the long term. Member Mutch said he was also concerned about timing, and what the November ballot would look like. He said they would not be the only issue on the November ballot, and would share it with gubernatorial campaign, State and Federal elections, and some divisive ballot issues, which millions of dollars in advertising would be spent. Member Mutch said they would have to touch base with a lot of voters. He commented if he had an ideal situation he thought a City election would be best, and being this late in the process wouldnít give them the time to make the case to the residents, which he felt needed to be done. Member Mutch thought the residents would support a library if presented in the right way and with the benefits to the community emphasized, but he wasnít sure today was the right time to move forward.
Carol Crawford, Beck Road, said she came to the meeting tonight because she wanted to see what happened, but she was not sure what happened here. She said she just knew that whatever went on had insured the loss of a bond on this. She said the library group came forward with no presentation, and she expected some type of proposal with photos or something that would change her mind because she wasnít for the bond to begin with. She said she saw nothing, the presentation was negative, and she had not seen something like this before. She expected an upbeat presentation to convince her that they had a really good program, and perhaps she would support it. She didnít see any of that, and just saw confrontation on both sides, which if it went out to the public and people were watching it tonight they would now say, why would I vote for this, they canít get together at all. She said she would certainly not put it on the ballot this fall. She would work on it and the relationships, and put it out there when it was time for the next City election, and it might have a chance then. She agreed there wasnít enough time to present it. She commented that she felt lost, and she followed Novi government all the time; what about the citizen who doesnít, they must be really confused.
Larry Czekaj, 24383 Nantucket Drive, commented that he wanted to address some things from the Library Board. He said what Ms. Crawford said just struck him upside the head, and that was that todayís presentation wasnít a presentation. Today was merely to have a study session with Council, and his understanding was they needed to come back to Council, and they would have the opportunity to provide and present anything they chose to as any other body that came before Council looking for direction and decision. He said they were looking for some temperature and guidance from Council as to the project; it wasnít to give Council the proverbial dog and pony show tonight. They believed they provided a wealth of information, and the Plante Moran presentation, which was extensive and detailed. Their intent was to get direction as to what Councilís thoughts were, and what the timing would be. He was not sure, as a Library Board member, he got that today. He knew where some of the Council members stood but not where others stood. He said, as to the issue, he would vote to put it on the ballot if that was what the Library Board wanted to do.
He said the Library Board had talked long and hard as to what would be the proper time to do it. He said they thought the November 2006 ballot would probably be the best time because the ballot was cluttered with State election issues but there was nothing on the City portion. He said as a Novi taxpayer and Novi News reader, there was nothing on this ballot agenda asking for money out of their pocket. There was no proposal for the schools or from the City Council for roads, fire, police or safety. He said they didnít know what 2007 would hold. He said next yearís election, as Mayor Landry indicated, was for roads, police, fire, and the Library would not be there. He said its police, fire, schools, and then library. He said it wasnít just an after thought to decide to do it in 2006. They did put thought into this but wanted to get a read as to whether Council thought it was a good idea. As to the issue of the Walker Fund, he understood Member Mutchís comments but thought, on the flip side, they had done a very good thing, that being this. He said one thing Council didnít ask tonight was how they
would operate this facility when the size, staff, etc. tripled. Mr. Czekaj said the numbers they had indicated that without a millage and within their existing operating structure, there would come a point in time when they would not be able to operate the existing facility without going through some sort of bond proposal or Headlee override. He said, clearly, with the presence of a new facility those costs would be exacerbated and the demands would be that much greater. He said their fear was that if they came to Council they could not provide a decent solid credible answer to that question. He said they couldnít satisfy Council or Ms. Crawford, etc. He said they thought if they could structure the Walker Fund in the form of an endowment where they could concretely, convincingly, and with all due confidence come back and show Council that based on the information available today, analytical data and forecasting with the assistance of Plante Moran, they could demonstrate with a high degree of success that they would not need to seek additional operating funds for at least the life of the bond proposal. Then if they asked for the money to build the building they wouldnít ask Council or the taxpayers to give them money to operate the Library. He said they thought they did a great service to the Library Boardís strategic plan, and put the taxpayer and Council in a better position to answer that very important question of how they would operate the "Taj Mahal", and that was not the intent of the Library Board to build the "Taj Mahal". However, the point was they were asking people to go into their pockets, and they wanted to be able to look them in the face and say here it is, and they didnít believe they would have to ask for more money to operate it. He said they thought they had done a great service to the Library Boards strategic plan, and also put the taxpayer and Council in a better position to answer the question of how it would be operated. It took some time, and they werenít all in agreement, but they discussed it and came to that conclusion. He said regarding the timing of coming before Council, he
would not say they were prepared to come to Council in April or early May. He said it was suggested, after inquiry from the Library Board, that given the Councilís budgetary concerns and issues that they would not be put on the agenda, or it would be best to wait until Council was past those issues before bringing it to their attention. It wasnít a calculated miscue on their part. It was given a lot of thought, a lot of concern and anxiety. He asked Council not to think that they were not being calculated and competent in what they were doing. Lastly, to address the issue of the timing, their thought was if Council gave them positive feedback to which they could come back with a formal proposal, and seek the formal approval and support from Council to go to the voters in November or otherwise, with that in hand the marketing plan would be energized, but they would need Council collectively as the champion. He said they had solicited assistance from the schools, Steve Schram, and other members within the school system to assist them. He said this was about education and should be a common goal of the Library and the schools. He said they believed, if they started in July and August, they would liken it to an individual running for City Council. He said if they took two or three months, September, October and leading into November, whatever they needed to do they should be able to do it within that time. He said they thought they could still do that process, and he didnít want Ms. Crawford leaving thinking there were a bunch of incompetents on the Library Board who couldnít put together a presentation for Council. Mr. Czekaj said it was not intended for that today, and today was their first interaction with Council. He said they valued the Councilís opinion and would trust in it, would attempt to do the right thing, and hopefully make this community, the Council and the Library Board very proud of the whole project.
Member Gatt commented he would support the issue if it comes forward. He said he had some reservations about the timing but never once did he mean to imply that the Board did
anything that he disagreed with. Member Gatt said he donated to the Walker Fund and they could use the money any way they saw fit.
Robert Cutler said the plan that Plante & Moran went through reduced the size of the building, and he didnít think they could reduce it anymore unless they wanted to start taking off some of the space from the program room, etc. He said the 60,000 sq. ft. represented all the work that the task force did, and the projection of what they would need over the next few years, made by the consultants. Mr. Cutler said this was not a Taj Mahal design.
ADJOURNMENT 10:17 p.m.
There being no further business to come before Council, the meeting was adjourned at
David Landry, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk
______________________________ Date approved: July 10, 2006
Transcribed by Charlene Mc Lean