Ypsilanti Citizen News Sidetrack

City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

Council considers terminating Depot Town CDC agreement

Don Sicheneder, Ypsitucky Jamboree event director, addresses council at Tuesday evening's meeting. Photo by Dan DuChene

Don Sicheneder, Ypsitucky Jamboree event director, addresses council at Tuesday evening's meeting.
Dr. Kimberly A. Rice DDS

Discussion surrounds ongoing 'Ypsitucky' debate

By Dan DuChene
Jun. 3, 2009    ·    3:11 a.m.

Ypsilanti City Council voted to issue a 45-day notice to terminate its agreement with the Depot Town Community Development Corporation

The 4-2 vote was made at council’s Tuesday meeting while discussing the on-going debate surrounding the DTCDC-organized Ypsitucky Jamboree scheduled for Riverside Park in September.

Mayor Paul Schreiber and Councilwoman Lois Richardson, D-Ward 1, voted against the resolution. Mayor Pro-tem Trudy Swanson, D-Ward 1, was absent from the meeting.

The Ypsilanti Human Relations Commission held a unanimous vote last week, which urged City Council to consider meeting with the DTCDC to reach an agreement that would change the event’s name. City Council had been considering a resolution that would have asked the group to host an event the “whole community can support” and “they discontinue the use of ‘Ypsitucky’ in the name.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilmember Bill Nickels, D-Ward 2, said he and Schreiber had met with members of the DTCDC at Cady’s Grill and Bar Monday night. He said he had come out of the meeting with the understanding that the group would be meeting Tuesday to agree to change the name.

Instead, Nickels said the group issued a letter to City Council at 4:45 p.m., an hour and 15 minutes before Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The letter said the group had invested capital toward organizing and marketing the event with the name. The DTCDC said changing the name would be detrimental to those efforts.

“We have strong support for the name in the community, and respectfully disagree with those opposed that the name carries a negative image or brand for the city,” the letter stated. “We hope that Council listens to the voices of the entire community in this matter, not simply those who speak the loudest.”

Councilmember Brian Robb, D-Ward 3, proposed substituting the resolution with a one-line resolution setting the 45-day notice to terminate the memorandum of understanding the DTCDC and the city share. The memorandum allows the group to control maintenance and event planning for Riverside and Frog Island parks while keeping the parks city-owned and public.

Robb pointed out City Council had approved shifting $22,000 from the City Clerk’s Office to the Department of Public Services to maintain both the parks. The money was originally allocated to purchase a new microphone system for Council Chambers. It is part of the budget being considered for the 2009-2010 year that goes into effect in July, if approved by City Council.

In addition to the funding level for park maintenance being restored to pre-DTCDC levels, City Manager Ed Koryzno said the event organizing could be performed by the Ypsilanti Area Jaycees, as it had before the memorandum of understanding.

Robb also said the DTCDC had not kept with the memorandum of understanding by not presenting City Council with regular annual reports and not notifying the city when making grant applications.

“To be honest with you I’m embarrassed,” Robb said at the meeting. “This is ridiculous.”

Richardson agreed with Robb that the issue should have not come before City Council. She pointed to the recent news from General Motors that the Willow Run Power Train plant could be closed next year.

“It’s really a little bit crazy,” she said. “We have so many other things that we’re facing right now.”

Many councilmembers, including Robb, Richardson, Schreiber and Councilmember Peter Murdock, D-Ward 3, said they had met with the group in March about the name and had advised against it.

“It’s a stupid name and I knew this was going to happen,” Robb said.

However, Robb said the resolution City Council had been considering did not go far enough.

“This gets us two more weeks of fight,” he said. “What do you think this will do?”

The substitution was then voted down 2-4, with Robb and Murdock voting in favor.

“I guess I’m not ready to give up on them,” Nickels said.

He said he would like to give the DTCDC those two weeks to consider changing the name. After that he said he’d “be right there holding hands with Councilmember Robb.”

After the vote, Nickels asked Assistant City Attorney Karl Barr for input as to whether City Council had the authority to ask the DTCDC to change the name.

Barr said he had originally opined that City Council had the authority under section five of the agreement, which states “In order to prevent conflicts between the city and the DTCDC, the city retains all rights to approve or disapprove any matter.”

However, Barr pointed out that at the HRC meeting last week, DTCDC Director Erik Dotzauer had attended with the group’s attorney. He then said the city could run into legal trouble with the demand under the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution if it sited only the name as motivation.

He said voting to terminate the agreement would be “content neutral” and be a “more wise decision.”

At that point, Councilmember Michael Bodary, D-Ward 3, motioned to reconsider Robb’s substitution. Council voted in favor to reconsider by a 5-1 vote, with Richardson voting against.

“We need to step back and think about ‘is this really what we want to do?’ ” Richardson said.

She pointed out that the 45-day notice would terminate the agreement in mid-July. “Right in the middle of festival season.

Richardson said City Council needed to consider the “unintended consequences of our vote.”

Koryzno said he didn’t the think terminating the agreement would affect the festivals.

After the meeting, Heritage Festival organizer Lynda Hummel said City Council’s decision would have no impact on the Heritage Festival.

The resolution was then substituted in a 4-2 vote, with the vote reflecting the same outcome of the final vote on the resolution.

Murdock said issuing the 45-day notice, required to terminate the agreement, would set a deadline for the DTCDC to consider changing the name of its American roots music festival.

During discussion, Robb asked if the vote actually prohibited the DTCDC from hosing the event. He asked if the city could prohibit an Abortion-fest, or Satan-fest.

Barr said the city could run into trouble banning an event based on its name. After the meeting, he said the DTCDC could apply to host the event with the Jaycees. At that point, he said he wasn’t yet sure what would happen.

City Council had lifted a moratorium on new events before approving the agreement with the DTCDC. He said if lifting the moratorium was tied to the approval of the agreement, than the moratorium could take effect if the agreement were terminated. He also said the city could deny the request based the city’s ability to handle the event.

He said he could not yet offer an official opinion.

After the meeting, the event’s director, Don Sicheneder, said he did not expect City Council to reach this decision Tuesday night.

“It got off base,” he said. “It’s not productive for our community.”

He said he hoped the two sides could come to resolution on the issue. However, he said the name was chosen by the DTCDC “for the right reasons.”

Sicheneder said the group will host the event, but would not comment if it would be held in Ypsilanti.

Related stories:

Ypsilanti HRC votes against ‘Ypsitucky’

Downtown groups oppose ‘Ypsitucky’ name

Ypsilanti Historical Society

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