JUDY CARL: City Council violates “set of values” it established

TO THE EDITOR:

Recently, I read the City of Manistee’s fiscal year 2014-18 capital improvement and asset management plans online. I must echo the words written by Sue Kingsley in her Oct. 12-13 letter to the editor, Manistee’s City Council and manager should be ashamed of themselves for ignoring residents and violating their own set of values they are obligated to uphold.

Each year, I see first-hand the deterioration of Manistee’s local roads. My husband and I frequent Manistee to visit our mothers who both reside in the area. My mother’s home, where she has lived since 1936, is located on Quincy Street.

As pointed out by Mary and Gerry Haw in their Oct. 15 letter to the editor, there are many streets in poor condition throughout Manistee. However, the situation regarding Quincy Street goes beyond the horrendous road surface. The most important issue is that the entire road must be lowered to resolve the persistent storm-water drainage problem which causes water, mold and mildew damage to homes and endangers residents’ health.

Because I live in another West Michigan community where streets are appropriately maintained, it is quite apparent to me that Manistee uses a flawed asset management program to monitor and rate its local street conditions. These program flaws include:

  • No consideration is given to issues such as inadequate water drainage caused by improper road elevation. Because a number of Manistee streets are constructed like Quincy Street — without curbs, bowed in the middle and elevated above sidewalks — the sidewalks are literally used for storm water drainage; and
  • Inconsistent rating of road surfaces; e.g., Quincy Street and Harbor Drive are rated as having comparable road surfaces. I encourage all Manistee residents to drive these roads to do their own comparison and witness how arbitrarily the city monitors road conditions.

While it is disturbing that the City of Manistee has neglected Quincy Street for more than 70 years, it is more disturbing that, with cash and investments totaling over $11 million, the Manistee City Council and manager choose to beautify parks at the cost of residents’ health and safety.

While reviewing city documentation, I found that city management regularly borrows money from the Oil & Gas Investments fund to subsidize projects they deem necessary, such as $118,539 for the Arthur Street Boat Launch, $249,851 for Marina Building Replacement and $125,000 to subsidize the Water and Sewer fund. If city management can borrow money without voter approval from Oil & Gas Investments for other agenda items, why aren’t funds “borrowed” for local street repair? And what is the total amount now owed to the Oil and Gas Investments fund?

The city manager and every city council member are in violation of the City of Manistee’s set of values for governance of the city. Council members should review their values, which they themselves established. You can find them in the city’s Strategic Plan at www.manisteemi.gov/DocumentCenter/View/947.

Judy Carl
Spring Lake

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