Monday, Nov. 21 — For the third election in a row, Mayor Virg Bernero is asking voters for permission to sell the former Waverly Golf Course and an adjacent park on the west side. But first — and what is yet to happen — a majority of the Lansing City Council must approve of the resolution to put the question before voters.
However, Bernero said tonight that this time is different. If the Nov. 8 election is any indication — when nearly 70 percent of voters gave the city permission to sell a portion of the former Red Cedar Golf Course on the east side — Lansing residents realize the city can’t maintain all of its parkland, he said.
“It is now clear from the November election … Lansing voters understand what we’re trying to accomplish,” Bernero told the Council. “We simply can’t afford to maintain all of the land we currently own. In these tough economic times, we have to put limited resources into critical public services.”
The Council’s Committee of the Whole, consisting of all eight members, will now consider the proposal. Bernero is hoping to get ballot language approved in time for it to be on the Feb. 28 presidential primary election ballot.
Previously, the administration tried to get the question on the Aug. 2 primary election ballot (which died in Committee of the Whole on a 4-3 vote in May) and the Nov. 8 general election (which was rejected by the full Council 3-5 in August). In May, Council members Carol Wood, Eric Hewitt and Brian Jeffries voted against the idea. In August, Council members Wood, Hewitt, Jeffries, Derrick Quinney and A’Lynne Robinson voted against it.
Bernero said the potential sale of the golf course and adjacent park “could provide additional revenues to be put into the rest of the parks and recreation system.”
Deputy Chief of Staff Randy Hannan said after the Council meeting tonight that the overwhelming support to allow the city to sell off 12.68 acres on the east side was proof voters will support the Waverly sale. “It’s very clear that the people of the city are favorably inclined to consider proposals to sell parkland. This simply opens that project up to us.”
The proposal is to ask permission to sell more than 120 acres that make up the former golf course and the adjacent Michigan Avenue Park near the Saginaw Street and Waverly Road intersection. The properties are city-owned, dedicated parkland located in Lansing Township.
Hannan said like Red Cedar, if approved, the administration will issue a public request for proposals to see if private developers are interested in the land. However, there is no appraised value for the property. Hannan said the administration, including the Parks and Recreation and Public Service departments, are working on a presentation of possible uses for the land. Hannan said that would be presented to the Council “soon.”
“Any proposal we get has to go through Council and I think people are comfortable with that,” Hannan said. “There is any number of possibilities (for resuse).”
He floated the idea of a private-run golf course or a dog park, but said there’s no way of predicting what kind of proposals would come forward — and that’s if voters give the city permission to sell it.
In other business, the Council unanimously approved four resolutions at tonight’s meeting:
- Accepting a State of Michigan 2010 Homeland Security Grant for nearly $3 million that will help the city’s Office of Emergency Management plan, train and purchase equipment related to emergency preparedness. At-Large Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar said the city will act as a fiduciary and will manage the funds for an entire region, of which the city is part of one of eight regions in the state. The grant lasts nearly three years and requires no local funding match;
- Accepting a State of Michigan 2011 Emergency Management Performance Grant for $51,120 over one year for emergency preparedness training. Part of the grant will also pay for a portion of the salary and fringe benefits of the city’s Emergency Management program coordinator;
- A tribute recognizing Tom Cheng Vue, who was active in the city’s Hmong Community and worked with Vietnamese refugees. Vue passed away on Oct. 30; and
- Granting nonprofit status to Lansing Renegade Athletics. In order for local nonprofits to host charitable gaming events, they must receive such a status from the city.