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To the Cedar Springs City Council and its Tax Payers:

 

I have held back my thoughts for a couple of years, but recent events do not allow me to do so any longer.

Just when several of us, and what I truly believe to be a majority of the tax payers, were excited that we had a leader with innovative business ideas, as well as a goal of making the city friendlier, a majority of the council voted him out of office in what I would call a very unprofessional manner. I know Mr. Truesdale had some very big, aggressive, modern, and forward-thinking ideas that quite possibly the council was not ready for yet, but in my opinion, it is past time for big ideas for this city. He may have made some mistakes, but who doesn’t? I, personally, like big goals. I look at it if from the point of view that if you only make it half-way to your goal, you still got somewhere! But why should I be surprised when this is the same group that says you cannot run the city like a business? I find this statement ridiculous and cannot believe such a thing is said. Rather, if it’s a school, city, county or any organization, it must be run like a business and get the most out of every dollar you possibly can. Please remember in your thinking, you do serve the taxpayers. The task of the council should be about what is best for the citizen not about which side one is on or about wins or losses.

It also does not hurt to be friendly instead of arrogant. Some of the city employees are great, but it seems as you get up the ladder it ends. City Hall should be a friendly place to go, not confrontational. After all, you are working for the citizens of the community!

I know some of the council members will say I have no vote or voice, as I do not live in the city, and yes, I cannot vote but I do feel the $468,000 I have paid in property taxes to the city in the last ten years does give me a say! I pay what I consider a lot of property tax without any city services: no water, sewer, leaf pick-up or road maintenance, as our property is on a county road but in the city limits.

I have never met the new city manager who has been here over a year. If I was a council member, I would want him out meeting with the tax payers, seeing if they had any needs, complaints, and maybe even new ideas. The last couple city managers at least stopped at our place of business when they first came to town.

Our company does a lot of municipal work for several cities throughout West Michigan and I can assure you, our city is very backwards and unfriendly. I truly feel we are a joke to all of West Michigan, not just Kent County. In the construction industry, we are known to be a very unfriendly city to try and build anything for and/or with.

I remember when my uncle (Mike Holton) and I donated the heating and air-conditioning to the Kent Theater, I checked to see if we could get the city fees waived. “Oh absolutely not,” as that would set a dangerous precedent. A few months later, we donated the plumbing for a shower building at the Kent County fairgrounds in Lowell. The city waived the fees and asked us if there was anything else they could do; they even thanked us and they weren’t even the owners of the building!

I have watched this city squander away so many things in the past, one being when the new Meijer store was being built. Meijer offered to pay the entire cost to run a water main big enough for their store as well as for future use under the expressway. This included all engineering, fees, permits, fire hydrants and related items at a cost close to one million dollars, and all at no cost to the city. As the individual from the West Michigan Metro Council tried to explain to both the city and the township, he encouraged them to take this gift as this is something the two of them wouldn’t be able to afford to do together in the next 10 to 15 years.  It was still turned down. In talking to Meilogo. This is my opinion, but I feel this is such an embarrassment to all of the residents in northern Kent County. What a joke that never should have happened. The attorney fees and time that was wasted on this is totally ridiculous! I am old-school and just a plain plumber, but I feel both sides should be tarred and feathered for their actions. Some sensible people from both sides need to get involved and get this issued solved. We do not need a new logo. I truly believe the Red Flannel logo needs to be returned to the people who really own it—the citizens of Cedar Springs and surrounding area. It has been our logo for as long as I can remember.

It’s past time to return the community back to the people that pay the taxes instead of a few people, who in my opinion, are trying to feed their huge egos and it appears have no common or business sense.

In all honesty, I feel badly that I have to write a letter of this nature. I grew up in this town, graduated from the school system, I’ve ran my business here, Northwest Kent Mechanical Co., for 25 years, and my mother lives here. My dad was fire chief for several years, he was on the council for 15 years, and served as its’ mayor for 7 years. This is a city which I truly cared for in my past, care for in my present, but more importantly for the future.

I truly hope this council can go forward in a more professional manner, but I am not convinced it can.

Thank you for taking the time to allow me to share my concerns and frustrations.

Dale Larson

 

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8 Responses to “To the Cedar Springs City Council and its Tax Payers:”

  1. Jenna Bielecki says:

    Go Dale!!!

  2. William Wheeler says:

    Well said.

    Much of this “City Hall” attitude came from prior City Manager. The current is a great guy that I have been very impressed with.

    If you want to meet him, go to a City Council meeting.

    As far as the future;Meijer would probably still pay to hook up to city water. They are sitting on a bunch of property surrounding the store they cannot sell due to the high water/sewer demand a resturant of hotel would have on current system. Imagine adding all those fees to our city tax base whether it’s in the 425 agreement with Solon or not. Maybe our City Manager could reach out to Meijer, Roger DeHoek is the property manager for Meijer.

    There is also a lot of property for sale along White Creek and a Family Fare that has not yet renewed the lease on the building. Someone needs to be talking to a large developer for this entire area so Cedar Springs is more than a stop to get gas and hit a drive-thru on the way up north for the weekend. Perhaps the hotel could be in the City rather than in Solon.

  3. Ed Valket says:

    Thank you Dale for writing this letter, I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. Cedar Springs has been chasing business away since I can remember and I have lived here for over sixty years. They want your taxes but don`t ask anything in return because it is not coming

  4. I love seeing democracy in action, as it’s one of the things that makes America American! When I hear debates like the ones happening around the city of Cedar Springs, I always hope for two things: (1) that the debate will continue, and (2) that the debate will remain civil.

    Here’s what Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy In America—
    “The political activity which pervades the United States must be seen in order to be understood. No sooner do you set foot upon the American soil than you are stunned by a kind of tumult. … Everything is in motion around you; here, the people of one quarter of a town are met to decide upon the building of a church; there, the election of a representative is going on; a little further the delegates of a district are posting to the town to consult upon some local improvements; or in another place the laborers of a village quit their plows to deliberate upon the project of a road or a public school. Meetings are called for the sole purpose of declaring their disapprobation of the line of conduct pursued by the government; while in other assemblies the citizens salute the authorities of the day as the fathers of their country….

    “The cares of political life engross a most prominent place in the occupation of a citizen in the United States. … An American cannot converse, but he can discuss; and when he attempts to talk he falls into a dissertation. He speaks to you as if he was addressing a meeting; and if he should chance to warm in the course of the discussion, he will infallibly say, ‘Gentlemen,’ to the person with whom he is conversing.”

  5. Gregg & Judy Schievink says:

    Very well put Dale!!!!!!

  6. Deb Hilton says:

    I believe the battle for control and arrogance goes beyond the city limits. Solon Township and the City do not work together for the tax payers. Solon makes rules and under Mr. Ellick’s watch the rules can be broken. When the Goodwill proposal was made it was in agreement that the large billboard would be non conforming to the property and must be taken down at the end of the lease. Even after several calls to Mr. Ellick the sign remains two years later. His answer is that it would cost Solon too much money to try and enforce the issue. The property is owned by Pinnacle not Goodwill. Mr. Larson need only look a few feet from his property to see that stupidity and arrogance is not selective to the City of Cedar Springs.

  7. Cindy Perski says:

    Excellent letter by Dale

  8. melissa sams says:

    Well said. Especially about the egos. This failure to work together for the residents is appalling. I have worked at some businesses in Cedar Springs and know some of the business owners and the city makes it hard to even survive. No wonder we have no real downtown. Time to move forward. And yes, it IS our tax dollars funding this ridiculousness,lets not forget.

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