Citizens District Council Minutes 09-15-2009

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Citizen’s District Council Meeting
City of Muskegon CDBG
Conference Room 203
Muskegon, Michigan
Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The meeting was called to order by Patricia Montney at 5:30 p.m.


Roll call was taken by Liz Parker.

Present:             Patricia Montney, Ned Carter, Muhammad Hakeem, Virgie
                     Jackson, Thomas Pastoor, Addie Sanders-Randall, Amy Varnado

Excused:             Marcia Hovey-Wright, Dan Rinsema-Sybenga, Stephen Gawron

Staff Present:       Wilmern Griffin, Liz Parker


Ned Carter made a motion to approve the minutes from the last meeting (July 7, 2009).
Addie Sanders-Randall seconded. Motion passed unanimously.


     NSP2
Wil Griffin said CNS has applied for a $5 million grant. The partners for this grant
include the three CHDO’s: Community enCompass, Habitat for Humanity and NIC. For
Froebel school, Wil wants to demolish the school and build green homes with solar
street lights, solar power, wind energy, energy-efficient appliances, etc. Wil said he got
a deficiency letter, asking for additional information for the grant. He was told this is a
good sign that he might get the funding. Muhammad Hakeem wanted to know if
community members would get preference for working on this project. Wil advised CNS
will work with their architect to come up with a design and all work will be bid out. Pat
Montney mentioned the City’s new website has a place for bids. Wil was aware of that
and possibly his bids could go on the site. Muhammad wanted to know if any work
could be started now. Wil advised nothing can be done until the grant is awarded.

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     Herman Miller Park Committee
Tom Pastoor said the new park is on Terrace and Isabella. Herman Miller was
challenged to do work on vacant City lots and to add playground equipment. Tom
worked with several City departments, including Planning to get the area zoned for open
space for recreational use. He also submitted site plans. McLaughlin Neighborhood
Association already had $10,000 from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
The total they had received was $25,000, of which $10,000 went to this project.
Herman Miller was willing to donate $20,000 to this project. The equipment was bought
from Play World and July 31 was the work day, named Partnership Day. They originally
had 125 workers, which ended up being 188 people total, including 48 from the
neighborhood. Besides the park they got the alleys cleaned and vacant lots mowed, fire
hydrants painted, rebuilt a neighborhood lady’s back porch, rehabbed the plumbing for
Sacred Suds’ washers and dryers, power washed and painted another neighbor’s fence
and painted 20 litter barrels. The project was from 8am to 4pm. The City did the
excavation and eight cubic yards of composite was deposited on Isabella to be moved
to the playground. They used the team approach to get some of the work done. Kids
from U-Turn, which is a last chance program for kids, were the leaders for the lawn
mowing and neighbors let them borrow their lawn mowers to get the work done. YEP
kids from Community enCompass cut all the lumber for picnic tables and built a few
picnic tables themselves. This gave them the knowledge of what had to be done and
they became the leaders for those crews. Herman Miller provided one person to video
the entire project and another to take pictures. They also wanted a mural on a fence.
They were able to project a picture on the fence and the kids painted the mural. Wood
Street Market, Benson Drugs, Ryke’s Bakery, among others, helped with food and
beverages. After the event, Herman Miller contributed an additional $10,000. Tom said
it was an incredible Day. He gave a big Thank You to Wil Griffin to hook him up with the
right people.

     2nd Annual Muskegon Unity Academic Olympics
Wil Griffin said the event was held on Saturday, August 29. It was for 1st – 8th graders.
The technology area had a competition for the students on computers on various
subjects including math, English and science. The idea for that program came from
Study Island, where students can go on the computer to study. The computers used
wifi as a wireless connection. The weather was terrible: cold, drizzling and windy, but
the students enjoyed themselves. The parents seemed to enjoy it too. Seventy-seven
students attended. It was important to do this to help the students reach their academic
potential. Due to the economy funds were limited. Sappi Fine Paper was not the main
funder this year due to their closing. The event ran much smoother than last year;
having the field set up on Friday night helped greatly and the even finished on time.
Like last year, the rain poured at the end. Pat Montney asked if the event would be held
again next year and Wil was not sure.

Wil also mentioned part of the advertising was a contest with the journalism class at the
High School. Students wrote commercials and the top four were chosen. Their
commercials were aired on the radio and listeners could vote for the best. The winners
will get $100, $75, $50 and $25 savings bonds, respectively for first thru fourth place.

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There was also an award given posthumously to Michael Miller, past president of
Nelson Neighborhood Improvement Association. The plaque was accepted by the

Wil would like to see more of the community and schools involved. One judge made the
comment that the kids had a lot of courage to attend; she wanted to try to set up a
tutorial program and give the idea to a school. Another judge, a former coach from
another state, stated this event showed him how much he missed teaching and would
be applying to be a substitute teacher.


      2010 Summer Adventure Playground Budget Cut
Pat Montney had handouts about the number of students attending the program by
school, the number of meals served by school and an article in the Muskegon Public
School publication, The Mirror, which talked about the free lunch applications that were
available online and how 80% of the students enrolled are eligible for free or reduced
price meals. She mentioned $40,000 comes from CDBG to support this program,
$15,000 comes from another grant and money from a program for meals. Not all of the
summer Adventure Playground Budget is from the general fund. It’s possible that if
CDBG funds aren’t used for this program then they could be used for other activities.
She mentioned she asked Cathy Brubaker-Clarke to the meeting but she didn’t feel
comfortable talking on items she didn’t make the decision on. Wil Griffin said
Commissioner Spataro mentioned not funding outside agencies this year and use the
money for in-house activities. Three or four of the commissioners asked to cut
something else out of the budget instead of this program. Tom Pastoor said they are
back loading the system and they will pay down the road. If you don’t make the
investment when children are young then you will pay down the road such as
incarceration, etc. He also said other things can be done to make activities for kids. His
neighborhood has done summer activities for the kids in the last two years which had
good attendance. He said there are other ways besides the City for activities, but that
it’s sad they are making the cut with children as there are a lot of other City programs.
The City did ask for money for their summer programs back in January and the CDC
agreed, but now it appears next January the summer programs won’t even be on the
list. Amy Varnado wanted to confirm that it is Leisure Services that requests funds for
youth programs and Wil said yes. Wil also mentioned the $40,000 is from the summer
programs, but there are also other youth programs in the winter. Amy said she wasn’t
clear how this helps the City’s bottom line by eliminating the summer youth programs
that are funded by a federal grant. Wil explained, as an example of not funding the
Senior Transit Program, that the money might be used to fund a police officer, which
technically they can as long as they can show the office is working a low/moderate area.
In the past the City took $245,000 of CDBG money to fund Shoreline Drive as at that
time it was considered a low/moderate area. Over the years that amounted to over $2
million of tax-payers money. Now the City is using CDBG funds for the bond for the
new fire station as a majority of their runs to low/moderate areas of the City. The City is
no longer doing street assessments. These are just examples Wil used to show where
CDBG funds could be used. Per Wil Griffin, CDBG funds can be used for infrastructure

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if it is for low/moderate activities, it eliminates blight or the activities are used to rebuild
after a major catastrophic event, such as a major flood, hurricane, etc. The main
activities are to assist low/moderate areas and to eliminate blight. There is also an area
for economic development; however, when using CDBG funds for this, for every
$10,000 you spend, you must develop three full-time jobs and this is hard to document

Pat Montney said she spoke to Karen Kendra and she said 36 people were employed
by this program and many are college students and are excellent mentors. It was
mentioned the economy will get worse and that the City hasn’t felt the full effect of Sappi
leaving, especially with the sewer issue. Ned Carter wanted to know how the City will
use the funds in 2010-2011. With the bleak picture the City painted he wanted to know
if next year the CDC would be looking no requests from the American Red Cross,
Habitat for Humanity, etc. Wil explained the three CHDO’s, Habitat for Humanity, NIC
and Community enCompass, receive money from the HOME funds which are used for
housing. The non-profits have the right to apply for CDBG funds and it’s up to the CDC
and the City Commission to deny them. Pat Montney reminded everyone one that
helping the youth of the City of Muskegon is also part of the Consolidated Plan. Ned
said it appears the City Commission will take the CDC recommendations as long as
their recommendations meet the staff recommendations for activities the City is involved
in and controls and it appears they take the CDC recommendations only on items that
are not City related, such as the American Red Cross, etc. Wil mentioned the CDBG
guidelines are a maximum of 10% for non-profits and a maximum of 20% can go to
administration. Amy Varnado is concerned Steve Gawron is not at many of the CDC
meetings and he is the liaison between the CDC and the City Commission. She feels
the CDC is overlooked because of this. Pat Montney said this doesn’t look good to the

    CAPER
Wil stated he is not finished with the report yet.

     NSP1 Activities
Wil Griffin stated NSP1 activities have been started with a $1.4 grant from MSHDA. 940
Wood has already been started. 1387 7th Street has been demolished. Four to five
more demolitions should be done by the end of October. Ten demolitions are
scheduled. We are the first up and running with the program. One big factor for our
community is employment. People are needed to purchase our homes and the
economic issues need to be resolved. Muhammad Hakeem asked how the jobs were
done and Wil explain they are all done through bids. Wil said with this grant they are
going ‘green.’ They want to recycle items from the houses that are salvageable such as
removing the roofing shingles and selling them to be ground up and used in asphalt.
Egleston Township is already doing this. He also will be using energy-efficient
appliances, solar energy when possible, ‘green’ paint, walls, etc. Tom Pastoor said the
key is to put local people to work. He also asked about the YouthBuild Grant and Wil
informed him it was not awarded to the City of Muskegon.

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    Program Updates
Wil Griffin said 218 Catherine is now on the Lease with Option to Purchase program. In
October Wil hopes to have an open house for the four homes that the CNS department
currently has for sale. He mentioned the Housing Specialist who ran the CDBG
Emergency Repair and Vinyl Siding programs, Ardyce Haken, retired on August 28.
Her position will be posted inside. If no one qualified, then the job will be posted
outside. It could be awhile before a replacement is found. Until then, there is a list of
people who call for repairs and real emergencies will be taken care of. Otherwise, all is
going pretty well per Wil.


Pat Montney said there were two additional items she wanted to discuss. The first was
the homes for sale by CNS. She would like to see the CNS website expanded to not
just have a flyer of the homes for sales, but to have pictures of the inside of the homes
posted. She said the interior is what sells the homes. Wil Griffin said they already have
a book with interior pictures and will work on getting it on the website. Pat would also
like to see a tour of the homes scheduled in late spring.

The second item Pat wanted to discuss was having a second vice chair. Currently the
vice chair is Marcia Hovey-Wright, but she has resigned due to her campaign for
political office. Pat said someone needs to be in that position in case she cannot make
a CDC meeting and needs to have good attendance. This position would be from now
until June, 2010. Amy Varnado’s name was mentioned. Virgie Jackson made the
motion to have Amy Varnado as the vice chair. Tom Pastoor seconded the motion.
The motion passed.


The next meeting will be on Tuesday, October 6, 2009.

Patricia Montney adjourned the meeting at 6:42 p.m.

Respectively submitted,

Liz Parker
Community and Neighborhood Services
City of Muskegon

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