ERIKA KAISER: Encourages vote for change in city leadership with Szymanski

TO THE EDITOR:

Michael Szymanski said the following, first at the League of Women Voters forum and Oct. 26 in the MNA: “Being selected for Rising Tide is not an award, it is an intervention from the state because Manistee is not meeting its potential. The City of Manistee was honored two years ago as the 10th Redevelopment Ready Community in the State of Michigan. This program evaluates and certifies communities that make development easy and have a vision for the future. …”

Not surprisingly, within a couple of months of being honored as a Redevelopment Ready Community (January 2017), two developers with excellent balance sheets and proven track records presented council with separate proposals on housing. Each included some low-income units. One was designed specifically for seniors, the other general population. One was on River Street, the other was near the former Olsen grocery store. Neither went through.

One can argue the pros and cons of each, but one thing is certain. The City of Manistee failed to put a common vision in place to work through the problems to bring these projects to fruition. The common thread? Low income housing, economic discrimination.

Never mind the widow or widower, who worked and raised a family in Manistee that lives on modest means. Never mind the student waiting tables and taking classes as West Shore Community College.

Forget the single parent working two jobs and trying to raise a child. They can’t afford market rate rent, we don’t need them here, is the message sent by Manistee. The message is clear. We don’t value people, as much as what they have in their wallets. 

Mayor Jim Smith does not want any more low-income housing in Manistee. He personally drove that message home. It doesn’t matter that only a few units were subsidized rentals. What mattered is that there were any at all. The financial incentives the developers needed were only secondary. We could have worked through those if we shared a common vision.

We aren’t a very welcoming community when we don’t recognize opportunities when they come to us. The Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce is working hard on economic development. By a majority vote of council, members decided not to participate in the chamber’s plan. Nor did the DDA participate. Stakeholders not sharing a vision, but throwing the term economic development with no idea how to begin.

In a very short time, we earned an unwanted reputation contrary to the designation of being Development Ready. We aren’t ready. All components need to share a common vision. Michael Szymanski quickly identified the problems facing his hometown and wants to help us get there.

Meanwhile, unable to figure out how to raise revenue or failing to participate in programs to get us there, you can look forward to more city services and jobs being cut.

Michael Szymanski is not a blame shifter nor a self-aggrandizer. Vote for a change in direction, vote Michael Szymanski.

Erika Kaiser

Manistee

 

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