Township has park tax increase on August ballot

By Ryan Hodges
Meridian Times Staff Writer

With a park system that is now nearly three times the size of what it was when the millage was established, Teri Banas, township parks commission vice chair, said the current millage is not enough.

Anne Perkins, Haslett resident, volunteering at the Harris Nature Center monthly "Stewardship Days."

Anne Perkins, Haslett resident, volunteering at the Harris Nature Center “Stewardship Days.”

“Our millage was established in 1984,” Banas said. “Just to give you a sense of how long ago that was, it was the year that (Apple’s) Macintosh was revealed.”

Currently operating on roughly $504,000 per year, township parks would collect over $1 million annually with the proposed millage. This would provide funding for park-development projects that have been put on hold for as many as 14 years.

The tax issue will be on the Aug. 5 ballot. The current tax of a third of a mill will run until 2016. The proposal would set the tax at two thirds of a mill, 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, for 12 years starting in 2014. Both taxes would be in until the existing millage expires in 2016.

Residents will pay tax at one mill until 2016 if the millage increase is passed. Then the tax would drop to two thirds of a mill when the current millage expires.

Township Treasurer Julie Brixie said that the question on the ballot is a little complicated to understand.
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$190 million overhaul planned for CATA’s route No. 1

Pictured above is one of the proposed ideas for the BRT system.

Pictured above is one of the proposed ideas for the BRT system.


By Whitney Burney
Meridian Times Staff Writer

Meridian Township— Capital Area Transportation Authority hopes to redevelop its No. 1 bus route, a change that will cost about $190 million.

The route travels from the Michigan Capitol in Lansing to Meridian Mall in Okemos. It is one of the longest CATA bus routes stretching about seven miles.

According to CATA Director Sandy Draggoo, CATA provides about 18 million rides per year. Of theses rides, 1.8 million are from the No. 1 bus route alone. This is one reason it is the first route to be considered for updates.

The changes expected to take place will include an addition of new bus-only lanes. Dover Kohl & Partners, the designers for the project, have proposed a few ideas for where these dedicated bus-only lanes will be, but have not concluded a finalized plan.

There will also be stations instead of regular bus stops where you can pay for your ride before the bus arrives which shortens bus-loading time. Currently, you can wait up to five minutes or more waiting for loading passengers. In addition, the BRT would have methods of controlling streetlights so that it will remain green while the bus passes through the intersections.

“I’ve been here 40 years and we’ve always called route one our bread and butter route,” said Draggoo. “It’s the only route that you would even talk about, nothing else could even begin to have the same ridership.” Continue reading

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Poverty lives in Meridian but hope is next door

Resources in Meridian Township have proven to be beneficial to those in financial need.

Resources in Meridian Township have proven to be beneficial to those in financial need.

Graphic and story by Madeline Carino
Meridian Times staff writer

Nelinda Cole married a good guy. They had a strong relationship, a beautiful son and appeared to be a typical family. He had a steady job and could provide for her and their child. They were happy.

But it didn’t last.

Three years into their marriage, he became hooked on heroin. He was in a constant cycle of using, quitting, rehabilitating and relapsing.

In 2004 when they lived in Detroit, Cole received a call from the police just before she left work. The police instructed her to come to the station because her husband was caught overdosed with her 4-year-old son in the car. By the time Cole made it to the station, her son had already been assigned into foster care. Cole had to wait almost a month before reuniting with her son. She wept every day they were apart.

Her husband had chosen a relationship with drugs instead of his family. The reliable, good guy that she once married was gone and an abusive heroin addict had replaced him. Cole found herself married to a stranger. Continue reading

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Age, time overtook central fire station

The old Central Fire Station in Meridian Township

The old Central Fire Station in Meridian Township

By Spencer Impellizzeri
Meridian Times staff writer

“The saying is that on average, a firefighter spends one third of his life in the fire station,” Tavis Millerov, a fire inspector and paramedic in Meridian Township, said. “This isn’t just where we work, it’s our home away from home.”

Built in 1957, Station 91, also known as the Central Fire Station, served Meridian Township for nearly 60 years before it was shut down on Feb. 12, 2014. The station was fully operational for the full time period, but as the building got older, more and more issues arose, largely due to the limited repairs and improvements.
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Planning Commission approves review for new fire station

By Spencer Impellizzeri
Meridian Times staff writer

The Planning Commission of Meridian Township approved the Section 61 review for the new fire station proposed in Meridian Township at the meeting on March 24.

A Section 61 review is an assessment of a site where a public building is to be built that needs to be approved by the Planning Commission in order for construction to be done.

The vote was close, as the chair of the commission, Patricia Herring Jackson, broke a 3-3 tie and approved the review.
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Township awaits decision on fire station site

By Coty Kenneth
Meridian Times staff writer

Location for the new fire station on the corner of Central Park Drive and Okemos Road.

Location for the new fire station on the corner of Central Park Drive and Okemos Road.

It has been 17 months since the approval for a new fire department on Nov. 6, 2012. Meridian Township voters approved the new centrally located station, which is the same site that is now the cause of discontent and opposition from residents.

“The Meridian Township Central Fire Station bond proposal allowed the township to issue $3.5 million in general bonds in order to build the new fire department,” said Meridian Township Treasurer Julie Brixie.

The request for a new centrally located fire station began as the condition of the original building became increasingly worse. The Central Station on Clinton street in Okemos had fallen into disrepair over the past few years but in the past 18 months has become unusable.

Fire Chief Fred Cowper said the department has tried to stay in the building because of the belief they would have a new fire station. The building had leaks in all areas of the station.

While the addition of the new fire station is agreed on, the location has brought discontent. The proposed site is four acres of a 28-acre parcel on the corner of Okemos Road and Central Park Drive.

Many say they were tricked, claiming that the ballot was unclear on the location.

“If I hadn’t re-read the ballot carefully, I too would have voted for this location. Which is my front yard,” said Betsy Strobl.

Residents of the Autumn Park Condominiums have opposed the project from the beginning. Concerns range from the noise of the alarms and trucks and the proximity of the station to their homes.

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Township approves Special Use Permit for new fire station

By Coty Kenneth
Meridian Times staff writer

Sign that was posted at the location for the new fire station. At the corner of Central Park Drive and Okemos Road.

Sign that was posted at the location for the new fire station. At the corner of Central Park Drive and Okemos Road.

After a final vote, a decision has been made: the Meridian Township has voted in favor of granting a Special Use Permit. At the April 1 meeting, board members approved the permit to build the new fire station with a six to one vote; Clerk Brett Dreyfus voted alone in opposition.

During the March 18 board meeting, many concerns arose regarding the placement of the station, the environmental issues and the volume of noise that would be generated. Mark Kieselbach and Thomas Bennett gave a presentation addressing these issues prior to continued discussion on the Special Use Permit.

“The fire station was reduced from approximately 15,000 square feet to about 14,000 square feet by removing the bay on the north side,” said Kieselbach. “Additional trees are proposed to be planted to become a buffer and the training tower that was in the original plan is now taken out.”

Several residents opposed the plan. Many were very direct and opinionated. However, a few viewpoints were conveyed with a sense of lightheartedness and comic relief.

“After leaving the planning commission meeting last week, many concerns ran through my head,” said 50-year Meridian Township resident Heather Jones Clark. “My first and foremost concern was how on earth anyone has ever been able to build a fire station anywhere.”

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