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Tag Archive | "city of cedar springs"

City misses taking 2015 water sample


By Judy Reed

The City of Cedar Springs posted a public notice on their website earlier this month noting that in September 2015, they missed taking an extra water sample after total coliform bacteria was found in a routine water test.

According to DPW Supervisor Tom Stressman, they sample all three wells once a month, as well as four points in the water distribution system once a month. In August 2015, a routine sample tested positive for total coliform, which, according to the EPA, is a group of related bacteria that is not harmful (with few exceptions) to humans. Instead, the EPA considers total coliforms a useful indicator of other pathogens in the drinking water, such as bacteria, parasites and viruses. Total coliforms are used to determine the adequacy of water treatment and the integrity of the distribution system.

If a sample tests positive for total coliform, the water supply is required to collect no less than five routine samples during the next month, which would have been September. Instead, the DPW only collected four.

Stressman said that they had never before had a positive test for total coliform, so he called the Department of Environmental Quality about it. “They told me to take another sample, and it came back fine. But they didn’t tell me I had to take an extra one (the next month), instead of the normal four. But that’s on me; I take the blame for that. As director of the water department I should have known that,” he said.

They did, however, take five samples the following month, in October 2015.

“The City is making efforts to ensure that all sampling is conducted properly in the future,” it said in the public notice.

The Post also asked Stressman about the possibility of lead in the city water supply, with the problem in Flint being in the news. He said there would not be any chance of lead in our water supply. “We didn’t have any construction here when they used lead (in the pipes),” he explained.

They do, however, test for lead, along with other things. “We are on a three-year rotation for sampling for lead. With our history of no lead pipes in Cedar Springs, we were able to get on that three-year rotation,” said Stressman.

He also noted that he posted the water quality report early this year on the website for consumer confidence purposes. Residents can access it at http://www.cityofcedarsprings.org/2016/02/04/2012-water-quality-report/ or pick one up at City Hall.

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North Country Trail to run through area


Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

By Judy Reed

It’s no longer a question of “if” the North Country Trail will run through Cedar Springs—it’s only a question of exactly where.

Representatives of the Community Building Development Team, the City of Cedar Springs, Solon Township, National Park Service, North Country Trail Association and Michigan DNR met last Thursday for the signing of the document solidifying the North Country Trail route through Cedar Springs.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

“Cedar Springs is now home to a State Trail (White Pine Trail) and a Federal Trail (North Country Trail) crossing each other in our town, and we have a National Park that runs through town and through Solon Township out to the Rogue River State Game Area! It feels so good to have achieved this milestone!” said CBDT secretary Carolee Cole.

The North Country Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails, and stretches 4,600 miles, across seven states, from the New York/Vermont state line, to North Dakota. It is the longest of the 11 trails.

An optimal location review was done to connect the National Country Trail from the Russell Road and White Pine Trail intersection, to existing trail off Red Pine Drive in the Rogue River State Game area. The review noted that points of interest along the trail route include Long Lake County Park, Howard Christensen Nature Center, Duke Creek, Cedar Creek, Solon Township Hall and the park they are planning, and the City of Cedar Springs, with the planned boardwalk along Cedar Creek and other attractions. Several alternative routes were mapped.

The new part of the trail will be approximately seven miles long. But the exact route is not yet established since easements have to be obtained before the trail is officially certified.

However, certain sections of the trail may not be certified. “At this time the trail will not be able to be certified on the White Pine Trail, as the trail can only be certified in locations that are free of motorized vehicles,” explained Cole. “The Michigan DNR is in the process of approving the possibility for a parallel walking trail that could then allow the trail to be certified. It’s not unusual to have parts of the trail all along the route remain uncertified because a section must share with a motorized trail.”

So what’s next? “Well, a lot more work!” said Cole. “We have to secure easements (talk to people), then build the trail (clear a narrow, hiking only trail to certain specifications) and then maintain it (be willing to go out after a wind or ice storm and clear debris). So we need more people to get on board. A lot more people to get on board!”

If you would like to contribute to this piece of history in Cedar Springs, please contact Amy Anderson at a2andy@yahoo.com and let her know you would like to help with the creation of the North Country Trail.

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Boil water advisories lifted


 

The City of Cedar Springs had its share of water problems last week with at least one leak and two water main breaks that forced the city to issue two separate boil water advisories. Each one occurred in areas of construction.

The first problem occurred early Wednesday morning, October 14 at Park and Ash Street. According to Al Kensil, with the Cedar Springs DPW, a fracture in a pipe caused a leak. Residents still had water, so there was no need for a boil water advisory. The construction crew had to turn off the water, however, about 7:30 a.m. to fix the leak.

The second problem occurred later on the same day at Red Flannel Acres. There was a water main break during construction, and residents had no water. A boil water advisory was issued about 1:45 p.m.

On Thursday evening, October 15, the crew was working at Park and Ann Street, when another water main break occurred, leaving residents at the east end of Ash Street and Meadowcreek apartments without water. The construction crew worked to fix the break, and Kensil explained that they decided to just continue the job and finish the rest of the work they needed to do, rather than returning at 4 a.m. They worked quite late into the evening to get the job done. One resident reported they were still working at 11:30 p.m.

Early Friday morning, DPW Director Tom Stressman called the Post and left a message that another boil water advisory had been issued for the prior night’s water main break.

The boil water advisory was lifted Saturday afternoon for Red Flannel Acres, and Sunday afternoon for Meadowcreek apartments and the residents at the east end of Ash Street.

Dean’s Excavating has been replacing the antiquated sewer lines, storm sewers and water mains. They have been working on the project around the city since late July.

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City to hold public hearing on planned unit development


 

By Judy Reed

A plan is in the works in Cedar Springs that might give the city a friendlier image when working with developers and business owners.

Business owners and residents in the downtown Cedar Springs area should have received a letter in the mail from the City of Cedar Springs about a public hearing on June 15 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, regarding the creation of a Planned Unit Development Overlay District (PUD) for downtown Cedar Springs. The PUD District will cover Main Street from 17 Mile to Maple Street, and one block east and west of Main Street.

Included in the letter was an explanation about the PUD and design guidelines.

According to City Manager Thad Taylor, the bottom line is that it would give the Planning Commission more flexibility in design standards when working with developers and business owners.

He said that in many cases, if a developer’s design doesn’t meet the specifications allowed under the ordinances, and the Planning Commission denies their request, they have to go before the zoning board of appeals. With the PUD, applicants needing dimensional variances for design issues like setbacks, façade materials, signs, etc., will not have to make the application to the ZBA. They would be able to submit waivers to the Planning Commission as part of the site plan review under the design elements of the project.

“If we are looking to be creative and work with the developers, to get what they want and what we want in the downtown business district, we need to be able to be flexible,” explained Taylor. “It’s the city’s approach that we want to work positively with developers.”

He gave one example as that of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company. “They had something that looked like flags, which our ordinance doesn’t allow. But their design looked fabulous, and the Planning Commission really struggled with that. In the end, they decided that they weren’t really flags.”

The PUD will provide additional guidance to prospective developers, businesses and property owners regarding the Planning Commission’s vision for the future. They will have a preliminary PUD plan, and a set of Downtown Design Guidelines. The goal is to maintain the traditional appearance of the downtown, with buildings setback at the sidewalk, and parking to the rear and on-street. The guidelines will not be strict rules, but a framework that the Planning Commission can use to make decisions.

To read more about the PUD and get a copy of the guidelines, go to http://www.cityofcedarsprings.org/2015/05/28/june-15-planning-commission-meeting/ and click on the links within the announcement.

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City to approve budget tonight


 

N-City-logo-webBy Judy Reed

The City of Cedar Springs has a lot on their agenda tonight, Thursday, May 14, including approval of the 2015-2016 budget.

This year’s proposed budget—$3,928,874—is coming in almost $284,000 less than last year’s budget of $4,212,502.

“Last year we took more money out of the fund balance to balance the budget,” explained City Finance Director Deb Brunett. “This year we are only taking $8,600 out of the fund balance to fund the additions to the budget that the City Council asked for at the budget meeting.”

Those additions included money for the joint fire study with Solon Township, Earth Day, reinstatement of beautification awards, and the Model-A Fire truck restoration.

There are two areas where residents may notice a difference: in their water/sewer bills, and in maintenance of major and local streets. But the differences are tied to a big sewer project on tap for this summer.

As part of the 2015 proposed fee schedule, the City will approve a rate hike in city water and sewer fees. “The fees are being raised so the city can make payments on the bonds they are purchasing for the sewer project,” explained Brunett. She said the average household should see an increase of about $5.99 a month on their bill.

Sewer rates will rise from $15.35/unit to $19.35 unit; sewer usage fees will increase from $4.66/1000 gallons to $4.67/100 gallons; water debt will increase from $4.69/unit to $6.44/unit; and water usage fees will go from $3.65/1000 gallons to $3.68/1000 gallons.

The major and local streets section saw a big reduction in maintenance revenue, but Brunett said that many streets will be redone where the sewer project takes place. Other than that, no new street projects will take place except for Beech Street, which was already planned.

Other items up for a vote tonight include: approve 2015-2016 millage rate (did not change); the new fee schedule; approve bids for sewer project; reinstate council finance committee; and approve standard policy for recording of council  meetings.

There are many other things on the agenda to be discussed, including hearing a Freedom of Information Act appeal; approving a contract for Christmas decorations with a supplier; a new FOIA policy for the city; and a  dispatch agreement with Kent County.  There will also be discussion on requests from the Community Building Development team regarding a trade of properties; a use agreement for the proposed amphitheatre; a use agreement for rain gardens, sculpture, and wetland delineation on city property; and use agreement on a proposed boardwalk on city property. There will also be discussion on a possible agreement with the Red Flannel Festival over licensing and in kind services. (click here for story)

To see what else is on the agenda and get all the info, visit www.cityofcedarsprings.org then click on Meetings/minutes, then 2015 council documents, then the May 14 agenda packet to get complete information.

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Winter parking in effect


The Kent County Sheriff Department Cedar Springs Unit would like to remind the residents of the City of Cedar Springs that winter parking is now in effect.

Under Ordinance No. 180 Section 36-86, no parking is allowed from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. from November 1 to April 1 on streets and areas that have a curb, such as Main Street and connecting side streets, and no parking within a distance of 20 feet of the center of a street for all other areas. The ordinance was approved last year by the City Council to help with snow removal.

There are public lots available to park in overnight, but cars must be moved daily. Lots can be found at the NE corner of Ash and Second; the SE corner of Elm and Second; the SW corner of Ash and First; and the NW corner of Cherry and First.

“Compliance with the ordinance is key in keeping the city roads clear during the winter months,” said Sgt. Jason Kelley, supervisor of the Cedar Springs Unit. “Your attention to and assistance with this matter is greatly appreciated.”

A violation of the ordinance is a civil infraction.

 

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Fire departments to look at cooperative services


 

By Judy Reed 

 

Both Solon Township and the City of Cedar Springs will vote next week on whether to commit to funding a feasibility study on ways to improve services of both fire departments, including a possible consolidation of services.

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake applied for and received a partial grant to fund the study. He said the study, to be done by an independent consulting service, would evaluate all aspects of the fire service delivery model in Solon Township and the City of Cedar Springs fire district proper. “This study will include alarms, training, fire prevention, fire inspection, code enforcement, building needs, apparatus and equipment inventory/needs, recruiting, duplication of equipment and services, etc. The end result will include recommendations to improve response, ability, and efficiency for our customers jointly in a cooperative manner,” explained Drake.

Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser agrees that the study is a good idea. “I think it would be a good thing to do. We all need to make improvements,” he said, noting that some of the boundaries don’t really make sense. He used the example of Solon needing to respond to a call at 16 Mile and Northland, because it’s in Solon Township, even though the Cedar Springs Fire Department is closer.

Drake made a similar observation. “I believe this study will highlight some deficiencies that exist with our service delivery that are based on tradition and political boundary lines that quite frankly have just been chosen to be ignored in the past. I think as good stewards of the authority designated to our position, we owe it to the taxpayers to examine our delivery model and be prepared to correct any deficiencies and/or disservice to the customers.”

Both departments do automatically respond to fires in each other’s jurisdiction, but not medical calls or accidents unless aid is requested. And assistance is often needed during daytime hours, when on call firefighters are hard to come by. Drake said that’s one problem that could be addressed in the study.

“The fire service across the nation (not just locally) struggles to put enough certified firefighters on the emergency scene during weekday hours (Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.),” he explained. “This study will provide recommendations for improving this fundamental function. I would anticipate this study would suggest the possibility of sharing personnel at a minimum in a cooperative manner, or even consolidation of resources. Either way the local municipality makes those decisions.”

The grant, which came from the State of Michigan, Department of Treasury, Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis, was approved for $11,750, 25 percent of the estimated feasibility study cost of $47,000. Solon Township Supervisor Bob Ellick said that he hopes that the Cedar Springs City Council will participate in helping to financially fund the study at some level. “I think it could be eye opening for the community,” said Ellick. “I think it will suggest some things that could help us give better service.”

“I find it interesting that an analysis of the Law Enforcement delivery model in the City (of Cedar Springs) was just performed and the decision was made to make a change in the interest of cost and customer service,” noted Drake. “I think this study will follow right on the coat tails of this movement.”

Drake said that the grant has language that the feasibility study will be reimbursed at 100 percent if the local unit can demonstrate that, within one year of the completion of the feasibility study, steps have been taken to consolidate services.

Drake said he has no pre-disposed desire of any particular outcome. He just thinks they owe it to taxpayers to examine what can be done better. “Why not complete an in depth analysis by a certified professional organization and examine their findings with unbiased anticipation? Answering this question is the ultimate goal of this cooperation study that these two municipalities are considering. I commend both local units for the courage to consider such a challenge,” he said.

Both boards need to submit resolutions committing to the study by December 29, 2014.

 

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Former city employee becomes Mayor


Jerry Hall is the new Mayor of Cedar Springs, and Pam Conley is Mayor Pro-tem. Post photo by J. Reed.

Jerry Hall is the new Mayor of Cedar Springs, and Pam Conley is Mayor Pro-tem. Post photo by J. Reed.

by Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council, made up of four new members and three returning members, chose a new Mayor and Mayor Pro-tem at their meeting on Thursday, November 13.

Four new members were sworn in—Rose Powell, Molly Nixon, Perry Hopkins and Pam Conley. Conley, who previously served, lost her seat last year in a close election.

Three members of the Council were nominated to be Mayor: Jerry Hall, Pamela  Conley and Dan Clark. Conley declined the nomination. The Council first voted on Hall, and the motion passed 5-2, with only Hopkins and Bob Truesdale dissenting.

Nominations were then opened for Mayor Pro-tem. Both Clark and Conley were nominated. Clark was voted in 4-3, but then refused the nomination. The vote was then taken on Conley, and it was unanimous.

Hall is retired from the City of Cedar Springs, where he was formerly the Superintendent of Public Works. He also served on the City Planning Commission and six years on the Cedar Springs Board of Education.

“I appreciate the confidence put in me, and I hope I can do it justice,” said Hall. “I think we can all move forward. That’s the direction we need to go,” he added.

Conley also previously served on the Cedar Springs Board of Education before coming to City Council. She thanked everyone for electing her back to the Council. “You seem to want me here,” she said. She also urged people to come to her with concerns. “Please talk to me about what you want,” she said.

One thing that Hall made clear to the Council and the audience was that he was going to be strict about enforcing time limits for public speaking, as well as the content. “I will not tolerate personal attacks on Council members or city employees,” he remarked. Hall had told the audience early on that if they happened, he would adjourn the meeting.

 

 

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City gets second warning siren 


 

By Judy Reed

 

When the new siren was installed in North Park in 2011, the City of Cedar Springs  knew that although it could be heard as far as White Creek to the west, and Ritchie to the east, to the south it only reached to just north of Dio Drive. Former City Manager Christine Burns said at the time that the city hoped to one day qualify for another grant for a siren on the south end of the city.

That day has arrived.

The Cedar Springs City Council approved a second emergency warning siren for the community at its regular meeting last Thursday evening. According to current City Manager Thad Taylor, the siren would be placed directly behind the city’s lift station, near Cedar Springs Middle School, on Northland Drive, just north of 16 Mile Road. He said that West Shore Services, the siren provider, used computer modeling to determine that this site, in conjunction with the siren at North Park, would provide nearly 100 percent coverage for our community.

The total cost for the siren is $20,600, but the City will only need to pay for half of that. The Kent County Local Planning Team awarded the city a grant for $10,300 to assist in the purchasing and installation of the siren. The City had budgeted $10,000 for the project, and will move $300 from its Repair and Maintenance Supply Expense fund to its Capital Expense fund to complete the amount needed for purchase.

West Shore Services is Kent County’s preferred siren provider, and they also put in the siren in North Park in 2011.

While the siren in North Park goes off at noon per the city’s tradition, the new one on the south end of town will not. However, Kent County does test the sirens on the first Friday of every month at noon, so it will go off at that time.

According to Taylor, the siren has already been installed, but is not yet operational.

 

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Four new members voted on to City Council


Perry Hopkins

Perry Hopkins

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley

 

Molly Nixon

Molly Nixon

 

Rose Powell

Rose Powell

By Judy Reed

 

Voters in the City of Cedar Springs cleaned house Tuesday and voted in four new faces to the City Council.

Perry Hopkins, Pamela Conley, Molly Nixon and Rose Powell all won seats. Leaving the council will be Mayor Mark Fankhauser, Mayor Pro-tem Patricia Troost, and Ashley Bremmer. Ken Benham decided not to run again. Both Troost and Bremmer were up for recall.

Conley (382 votes) and Hopkins (325) beat out Fankhauser (311) for two seats. Nixon (310) ran against Bremmer (295), and Powell (346) ran against Troost (270) under the new recall law.

The candidates ran in two groups. Signs around town urged people to vote for either Conley, Nixon and Powell, or Fankhauser, Troost, Bremmer and Hopkins.

A little over 33 percent of registered voters voted in the election.

Winners of this election will join Dan Clark, Jerry Hall, and Bob Truesdale as members of the City Council at the November 13 meeting.

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