The April 4 East Lansing City Council meeting had a full agenda, including taking action on two lawsuits, approving “No Mow May,” and approving construction at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center.
The consent agenda included multiple approvals of resolutions focusing on diversity in the community, including:
- Recognizing April as Autism Awareness Month.
- Acknowledging the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan.
- Recognizing March 31 as International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Two of the council members spoke on how happy the April 4 consent agenda had made them when looking it over.
“I smiled as I reviewed our consent agenda,” said Councilmember Dana Watson. “Being a part of the city of East Lansing is also being a part of inclusion and belonging, so I love the recognition of Ramadan, I love being an ally to our transgender community, and I love the recognition of neurodivergence.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg also expressed the positive effect the consent agenda had on her.
“It was a pleasure to read our consent agenda and see so many things that I’m really happy to be a part of,” said Gregg. “I’m the proud mother of 3 transgender children… so I’m really pleased to see that on our agenda tonight.”
Interim City Manager Randy Talifarro presented the city manager’s report, which included:
- The re-opening of the Northern Tail dog park.
- The continuation of free mental health counseling at the library.
- The upcoming events on April 15: Spartan Green and White Game and the Izzo 5k run/walk/roll.
In a unanimous 4-0 vote, Council approved to repeal a city ordinance that has been the main topic of a lawsuit. The East Lansing Ordinance, according to East Lansing City Attorney Anthony Cubb, required landlords to provide new tenants with voter information and voter registration materials. The repeal of this ordinance means that the lawsuit will be settled, and the city of East Lansing will lose no more money.
Council also voted unanimously to issue $36 million in bonds to the city’s Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) and the Sewer Collection System.
According to Nicole McPherson, outgoing Acting DPW Director, the approval of this motion would “by no means obligate the city to be able to go for a bond for $36 million, but allows us to apply for a bond for which the projects would need.”
The following motion that was carried out unanimously by Council included changes to the contract they hold with the Michigan Municipal League (MML). This contract states that if the search for a new city manager is not successful, MML will redo the search and only charge the city for advertising.
Council also unanimously approved a resolution to participate in a new partial settlement of national prescription opiate legislation. This settlement is expected to bring thousands of dollars into the city.
The “No Mow May” initiative was also passed in a 4-0 vote. The resolution, presented by Parks & Recreation Director Cathy DeShambo and East Lansing Environmental Specialist Cliff Walls, encourages property owners to not mow during the month of May.
The initiative, according to the Council’s agenda item report “Focuses on the formative period for establishment of pollinator insect species that occurs in late spring when pollinator species emerge from hibernation and when supporting plants emerge and blossom. This voluntary initiative allows residents to participate during this especially critical period of pollinator emergence.”
DeShambo states that the City of East Lansing is “intending to participate as much as we possibly can.”
“We’re going to collaborate with DPW because they do the mowing services in our parks and on our property,” DeShambo said, “ and we’re going to look for all the opportunities we can to participate.”
DeShambo also presented to Council the application for a $625,000 SPARK Grant to make changes to the Hannah Community Center property.
The grant would be used to build a pavilion that would be utilized as an outdoor classroom space and community gathering space, according to the Parks and Rec Commission Approved 2023 SPARK Grant Resolution.
The changes would also include electricity and water access in the pavilion, walkway improvements, accessible parking and seating, and the repavement of parking lots and basketball courts.
Councilperson George Brookover objected to this application, finding it “ironic that on the same Council agenda that we’re voting on No Mow May, we are once again taking up grass.”
On the contrary, Gregg presented her support for the application, stating that the shade from the pavilion will be very beneficial for the community, specifically during the summer recreation programs.
The motion was passed in a 3-1 vote.