Mayor Bernero speaks out against Eastwood Towne Center expansion

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By Stephanie Cavin

Lansing Township News staff writer

LANSING TOWNSHIP—Lansing Mayor, Virg Bernero has kept no secrets about his negative thoughts regarding the expansion of the Eastwood Towne Center.

According to Eastwood DDA the lifestyle center, soon to be renamed Eastwood Town Village, is on track for many large additions. The construction of a 12,000-square-foot performing arts center began on Monday and will be followed by restaurants, retail stores and a hotel according to city plans.

Bernero believes the outdoor mall is drawing attention away from downtown Lansing, an area he has spent his term as mayor trying to re-create.

Bernero has made public comments calling Eastwood a “basterdization” and a “sprawl”. The mayor also said “If Eastwood works in Lansing Township, It would work better in Lansing.”

Remarks from the mayor have not slowed the expansion project but Lansing Township Deputy Clerk Patricia Ellis is less than thrilled with the response from the mayor.

“If the situation was reversed and Eastwood was in the City of Lansing, Lansing Township’s Supervisor, John Daher, would have provided a professional, positive comment.  He likely would have indicated that he was happy for the City of Lansing and he would most likely have stated that the development would be of benefit to the entire region.  Our elected officials need to work together and support each other and not engage in petty jealousy.”

Supervisor Daher, referred to in Ellis’s comments, was contacted shortly after for comment.

“Eastwood belongs to everybody and anybody, not just the township. If it is a basterdization, as the mayor calls it, Lansing and East Lansing has caused that. We were formed in 1842 and over our 170-year history, East Lansing and Lansing have plucked away at that. We appreciate the fact that [Eastwood] is in the township and we’re ecstatic about it.”

Daher is a lifetime resident of the area and says the town center gives him a sense of being somewhere other than Lansing for a change.

Lansing Township has been split into five small islands since its original establishment as Daher confirmed. Annexation laws were established in the 1970’s to protect townships from being dissected. At this point, most of Lansing Township had already been claimed property of Lansing and East Lansing. The township had a population of 8,126 in the 2010 US Census, a much smaller number than surroundings cities.

Regardless of Eastwood Towne Center’s location, population, or recent backlash from the mayor, the expansion plans are moving forward. The township held a budget committee meeting on Tuesday and an Eastwood DDA meeting this morning to finalize details regarding the expansion.

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