By Stephen Brooks
Williamston Post staff writer
The City Council approved a date and time for a public hearing regarding the potential sale of the Williamston Police Department building, 1500 W. Grand River Ave, at its Jan. 28 meeting. The hearing will be held at 7:05 p.m. on Feb. 25 at City Hall.
The current police station currently is being sold, Mayor James DeForest said. The eventual plan is to build a new station next to City Hall with money from the sale of the 1500 W. Grand River Ave. location.
“After the public hearing … later that evening we’ll probably have a vote on accepting (the plan at the City Council meeting),” DeForest said.
At the hearing, DeForest said he hopes to have potential designs and concepts for the new building project for the public to see.
A finalized agreement to sell is contingent on the council approving a plan from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, DeForest said. The development group already had lawyers approve changes to the plan that would allow the sale.
DeForest said the police department could potentially relocated in a yet-to-be-determined building in an industrial park in the interim once the building is sold. There is interest from a man that wants to open a restaurant and brewery in the old police station building, he said.
“We’re trying to move quickly,” Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Vanallsburg said.
Despite DeForest and Vanallsburg’s wishes of hurried progress, council member Michelle Van Wert expressed concerns about transparency and urged the council to proceed with caution during the meeting.
“I’m very concerned that we’re moving forward with a long-term commitment and investment in a city services building and we don’t really have a projected cost,” Van Wert said. “All these things that go hand-in-hand with moving forward in an open fashion. I’m very concerned.”
In addition to the hearing, the council unanimously approved the appointment of Jeff Short to the city’s Board of Review for a term that expires on Jan. 1, 2016. Short was previously an alternate on the board and wanted to become a regular member, DeForest said.
Council member Ben Stiffler moved to create an action item at the next meeting to discuss a plan to renovate or update the welcome signs heading into the city that was approved.