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June 11 2009 Work Session Minutes

CITY COMMISSION WORK SESSION 
REGARDING THE MILL RACE
June 11, 2009
7:00 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Carla Cole, Patricia Moore, William Norton, Warren Weaver
Absent:   Barbara Clark
Staff:    City Manager Meg Mullendore and DDA Director Debra Patzer
Visitors:   41 guests

Ms. Mullendore stated this work session is more accurately a community forum in which public input will be heard by the Commission.  She requested cell phones be turned off or put on vibrate.  She also reminded those in attendance that no action would be taken at this session; the purpose is to hear the public’s thoughts and concerns which the Commission will take into consideration when the time comes to make a decision.

Mayor Pro-tem Cole asked for public comments and stated the commission reserves the right to limit the amount of time any individual may speak, based on all of those who wish to express their thoughts and concerns on this issue.  Further, any individual may be asked to leave the premises if they continually speak out of turn, are rude, inconsiderate of others’ comments or have a blatant disregard for the Rules of Procedures adopted by the City.

Ms. Mullendore then opened the floor to public comments and asked that those wishing to speak, raise their hand and be recognized by the Mayor Pro-tem.  She also asked that people state their name and address for the record, before they state their comments and concerns.

Tom Fehlner - President of the Buchanan Preservation Society.  Mr. Fehlner stated the Society strongly supports the report from the consultants group, and urges the commission to move forward.  During his comments, Mr. Fehlner included a history of Pears Mill and the Mill Race.  He also reviewed, and expressed his agreement with, the study completed by Wetland and Coastal Resources.  He mentioned economic benefits of having a fully operational Pears Mill.

Marjorie Foster - homeowner in the Crestview subdivision of Buchanan Township.  Ms. Foster stated her family has lived here since the early 1800s.  She expressed concern that Pears Mill be restored to usefulness, by increasing the flow of the Mill Race.  As a history teacher for forty years, Ms. Foster stated the importance of history in the cultural and social make up of a community as well as the economic benefit; she urged the Commission to preserve the Mill Race and Pears Mill.

Randall Peart - resides on West Chicago in Buchanan.  Mr. Peart stated his agreement with almost everything that had been previously stated.  His only issue was with McCoy Creek Pond, he explained that it is a settling pond that is meant to prevent any remaining sediment from going into fishing grounds, and with the low water level sediment has gone down stream.  He also thought shade trees should be planted to help lower the temperature of the water.

John Trapp - resides in the Crestview Subdivision.  He had previously reviewed the August, 2008 report prepared by Wetland and Coastal Resources. He also stated he had worked for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 33 years as a Wildlife Biologist, and after reviewing the report, he urged the City Council to apply to the State of Michigan for a permit to reconstruct the weir at its historical location at the upper end of the Mill Race.  He also mentioned economic benefits of having a fully operational Pears Mill.

Larry Elliott - Buchanan resident.  Mr. Elliott disagreed with those who had spoken before him. He quoted several points made in a letter by Dr. Brian Burrows, Ph.D. in Fisheries Biology, including: Dr. Burrows’ opinion that the evidence is clear that the existing dam does damage to the upstream portion of McCoy’s Creek; his belief that there were flaws in the methods used in the study; Dr. Burrows also wrote that Michigan Trout Unlimited is committed to preserving, protecting and restoring Michigan’s cold water fisheries and  McCoy’s Creek is a designated trout stream with a threatened cold water fishery.  Mr. Elliott also mentioned the vandals who removed the 1500 pound piece of concrete, which resulted in the flow of silt into the Creek.

Angela Scull -133 W. Chicago St., Ms. Scull stated she was favor of preserving and restoring the Mill Race.  She also said that since the act of vandalism she has not seen turtles, muskrats, and other kinds of wildlife that lived in Mill Race.

Stephanie Stang - 133 W. Chicago St.  Ms. Stang recalled being in elementary school and going on field trips to Pears Mill and learning how it works, getting to help with the equipment and going to the Gift Shop.  She supported preservation of the Race, Pears Mill and McCoy’s Creek.

Jessica Kinkowski?? - resides on North Main St.  Ms. Kinkowski stated her support for saving the Mill Race and Pears Mill. After going to Pears Mill about a week ago and learned there was possibility the Mill Race would no longer exist, she decided to email the Mayor.  She then spoke of her support to save the Mill Race.

Lyle Summerix - citizen of Buchanan.  Mr. Summerix stated he think’s it’s an ideal situation for cleaning up the Mill Race and restoring to a source of pride rather than the eye-sore it is today.  He also stated dredging the Duck Pond would give Buchanan two very attractive sources for tourism.  He was in support of any efforts made to clean up and restore the Mill Race.

Doyle Vergon - citizen of Buchanan, and member of the Mill Race Committee.  Mr. Bergon stated the Mill Race needs to be cleaned up.  He also stated the Mill Race has been here for over one hundred years, the silt took care of itself, the trout stream was functioning fine and there is no reason that mess can not be cleaned up.

Don Trull - resides on West Fourth St.  He stated that the study performed has more than ample evidence to support the idea that there can be a trout stream and a Mill Race both functioning.  In terms of the trout stream, he stated it is not a self sustaining trout stream; the DNR stocks it every year and if McCoy’s Creek ceased operation as a trout stream, it will be because the DNR failed to stock it rather than anything that might be done in the way of a weir or maintaining the Race.

Patrick Shirey - stated he is not a resident of Buchanan but was invited as a third party observer by a resident of Buchanan; he stated he is a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame.  Mr.Shirey commented on trout not being native to McCoy’s Creek.  Brook Trout, the only native
trout in this area were found primarily north of Muskegon.  Identifying McCoy’s Creek as a naturally reproducing trout stream is a label that stuck to it after European Brown Trout were introduced around the early 1900s.
 
Peter Hartz - 904 Commercial St.  Mr. Hartz stated McCoy’s Creek is designated as a cold water fishery by the Michigan DNR, not a native trout stream.  He was in favor of having a viable Mill and a viable Trout Stream, and stated that having both would be good for Buchanan’s economy.

Members of the City Commission discussed the issue and expressed their thanks to people who came to the session and stated their opinions regarding the Mill Race.  The Commission will consider all information presented before a decision is made.

Mayor Pro-tem Cole discussed the vandalism and stated she was very upset over it and would be glad to see the City open an account at Chemical Bank, in which people could donate, that would make it possible to offer a reward for information regarding the person or persons responsible for the vandalism.

Mayor Pro-tem Cole thanked the attendees and adjourned the work session at 8:02 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
______________________________        ______________________________
Meg Mullendore, Recording Secretary            Cathy Emmel, Transcription Secretary

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