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REGULAR MEETING OF THE NOVI CITY COUNCIL
Mayor Clark called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL Mayor Clark, Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi (absent/excused), Council Members Capello (absent), Csordas, Landry, Lorenzo, and Sanghvi
ALSO PRESENT Mary Ann Cabadas, Recording Secretary
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
There was one addition to the interview schedule, Linda Marie Tomasso for the Library Board.
CM-03-01-037 Moved by Sanghvi, seconded by Csordas; MOTION CARRIED: To approve the agenda as amended.
Vote on CM-03-01-037 Yeas: Clark, Csordas, Landry, Lorenzo, and Sanghvi
Absent: Bononi, Capello
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – None
7:34 – Thomas Swope, Library Board
Mayor Clark introduced Mr. Swope and stated he is currently a member of the Historical Commission.
Mr. Swope mentioned he understood there had been talk of replacing the current Library building. He felt this was on the wild side and he took the liberty of contacting a former professor at California Polytechnic State. He explained the Library situation in Novi to her and her comment was it was not economically feasible. He stated he is opposed to demolishing the present Library building.
Member Sanghvi thanked Mr. Swope for interviewing before Council. He asked Mr. Swope why he wanted to be on the Library Board. Mr. Swope stated he has something to contribute, he patronizes the Library religiously, and it is one of his favorite places. He believes there can be improvements, and can contribute to those. Member Sanghvi asked what areas he can see improvements in. Mr. Swope responded the Library is very crowded; one possibility is satellite facilities to relieve the crowding and better service the entire City. Member Sanghvi asked how many satellites Novi should have. Mr. Swope replied two.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Swope to elaborate on some of the changes and thinking on the Board that he could contribute to. What are his concerns about the last Election with regards to the Library proposal? Mr. Swope responded that first we have to be fiscally responsible. We should not get in over our heads, but get as much bang for the buck as we can. If there is a possibility of rendering better service, we need to give that to the public.
Member Landry stated the Library has internet, at the touch of a button we can have books, information and sometimes things we do not even want, they just pop-up on the screen. Why do we need a Library? Mr. Swope replied first of all if you are a reader as he is, you can spend hundreds of dollars a month on books to read. The Library is very heavily patronized and from personal experience he knows you can wait many weeks for requested books. He has seen the Library used as a resource for residents with small children, they check out handfuls of books.
Member Csordas stated he would like Mr. Swope to further expand on his statement, "after the last Election it is apparent we need some changes in thinking on this Board". Mr. Swope answered he thinks every once in awhile you need new blood in an organization otherwise it tends to get stale. He believes he can give it a different slant and is not bashful in having his wishes known, and examined. Mr. Swope stated as a whole the Library Board runs pretty good, but there is always room for improvement; nothing is perfect.
Mayor Clark spoke that Mr. Swope has already stated, in his opinion, he would not want to see the present building demolished. If he had the opportunity to make changes at the Library, what would be the number one change he would like to see implemented. Mr. Swope replied if it were a physical change, he would like to see the building go up rather than out. An example he gave was the Library at California Polytechnic State, the main floor is similar in size to the Novi Library and they added a mezzanine. They have an escalator plus an elevator. He believes it can be done reasonably and attractively.
7:45 Mark Sturing – Building Authority
Mayor Clark introduced Mr. Sturing and asked if he had any opening remarks.
Mr. Sturing stated he has been a resident of the City of Novi for twelve years. He has served on the Building Authority for seven years, since it was created in 1995. At the time it was called the Senior Citizens Housing Committee. He believes the immediate task of the Building Authority is close to finishing; there are a few loose ends at Meadowbrook Commons that they are trying to wrap up. He would like to see those through.
Member Csordas thanked Mr. Sturing for his years of service and help in bringing Meadowbrook Commons to fruition. His opinion was if Mr. Sturing would like to continue on the committee, he has no objection with him remaining.
Member Landry asked if there was anything Council could do to help the Building Authority. Mr. Sturing stated the help and support, as provided in the past, is sufficient. Member Landry stated Mr. Sturing is doing a great job and would like to see him continue.
Member Lorenzo stated her appreciation for his interest. She asked what activities are left with Meadowbrook Commons. Mr. Sturing responded the only things left are a few warranty items with the builder, mostly landscape related. There is a final payment due the builder and they are working that out with a few punch list items. It is 99.9% complete. They are mostly outside items, nothing of a serious nature. Member Lorenzo asked if they expect to have those items wrapped up by spring or summer. Mr. Sturing replied summer. Member Lorenzo asked after that, what type of activities he sees the Building Authority involved in. Mr. Sturing replied the Building Authority takes direction from Council in terms of what projects they want the Building Authority to become involved with. There are none specific that have been brought to the Building Authority at this time. The only other possible project would be the potential for refinancing of existing bonds that are out on the Ice Arena or the Meadowbrook Commons.
Member Sanghvi asked Mr. Sturing what keeps driving him to continue serving on this board after this length of time. Mr. Sturing replied the challenge and the reward of building and creating things. He thought at this point it is like your children growing up and moving on, Meadowbrook Commons is built and managing by itself, but you want to keep a little involved.
Mayor Clark stated he appreciated his efforts for the last seven years. The Building Authority has done an excellent job. He too would like to see Mr. Sturing continue on in this capacity.
7:50 - Michael Barton – Stormwater Management & Watershed Stewardship Committee
Mr. Barton stated he has lived in Novi for almost eleven years. He was appointed to the Stormwater Management and Watershed Stewardship Committee two years ago when it was formed. The main thing the committee has been doing is having input into the stormwater pollution prevention initiative that the City had to file for its discharge permit. Coming up are the issues of revisions to the Stormwater Master Plan, monitoring how we are complying with the stormwater prevention plan that we have filed and developed for the permit. There are maintenance issues coming up such as maintenance of the Meadowbrook Lake detention basin, which needs to be dredged out at the cost of several million dollars. Also there are several water quality issues coming up in the next few years. He would like serving on the committee to have input on the resolution of these issues.
Member Sanghvi stated his question was more for curiosity. He asked what an attorney does on this type of committee. Mr. Barton stated there has not been a lot of need for specialized legal advice. It is a very heavily regulated area that involves legal issues and he is willing to look into them for the committee. The committee has a lot of statutes and ordinances that need to be read and he can offer input on these issues. Mr. Barton commented that the stormwater issues are managed by the Federal court through plans and oversight. Member Sanghvi asked his opinion on all of the construction going on in Novi and how is it contributing towards water related problems, i.e. flooding, stormwater etc. Mr. Barton stated the goal of the prevention plan initiative that the Federal Court has had the committee implement, is to minimize the impact of development on rivers and waterways. They try to do the planning in a smart way so there is no destruction of important wetlands. To create them artificially elsewhere is costly. Novi works very hard to preserve the wetlands and has a strong ordinance to deal with them.
Member Lorenzo stated the committee has been doing a very commendable job and to keep up the good work, the efforts are appreciated. She asked if there is anything Council can do to help make the Stormwater Management and Watershed Stewardship Committee’s job easier. Mr. Barton replied Mayor Pro-Tem Bononi attends all the meetings, is very helpful, and lets the committee know the important issues and keeps the lines of communication open.
Member Landry asked what he believes is the most significant accomplishment in the past two years. Mr. Barton replied the input into developing the stormwater prevention plan initiative. The staff at the City reviews the plans, using the committee’s input and the committee is also reviewing the revised stormwater ordinance. Member Landry asked what is the biggest challenge facing Novi in the next three years regarding stormwater management. Mr. Barton stated complying with the plan that they developed to manage the stormwater is the biggest challenge. As the City builds out, there will need to be trade-offs and judgments on what needs to be done if natural stormwater management areas and wetlands are removed.
Member Csordas asked if there was an attorney that represents the City, other than himself, attending the meetings. Mr. Barton replied Mr. Fisher has attended occasionally. Member Csordas asked if the committee was receiving sufficient direction from the City as far as being overly burdensome to land owners in the City that may take legal action against the City. Mr. Barton replied there has been one development that has come before the committee. The committee had input because there was delay in processing the applications. Member Csordas asked him to keep in mind that Council is the last resort on lawsuits against the City and not to be overly restrictive. If they need legal representation the committee can ask for it and get opinions.
Mayor Clark had no further questions. He thanked Mr. Barton for his efforts.
7:59 – Dr. Maggie Pringlemeir - Historical Commission
Dr. Pringlemeir thanked Council for the opportunity to address them. She would very much like to be appointed to the Historical Commission. She stated she has a doctorate in divinity and has lived in Novi for six and a half years. She was born in Detroit and has lived in different parts of the country over the years and Detroit has always brought her back. She believes it is because of the ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity here, which is unusual to find. She finds Novi a unique experience in that the cultures and religions live next door to each other and get along. What many people do not realize about Novi is that it is a very technologically advanced area. She discovered on line that Novi is number three in the Country for technological advancement; Silicon Valley, Boston Corridor and Novi. She felt the Historical Commission has a unique challenge; they need to figure out how to meet the needs of the technological community while still retaining the values and goals of those who went before us and laid the framework. Dr. Pringlemeir stated her passion is explained by a poem. The poem is by Catherine Blackwell, called Rationale.
If we the living generation
Forget our role as the linkage
Between the past, our ancestors
And the future, those yet unborn
Than all will be forgotten
If all is forgotten
Then all our today’s are of no consequence
If all is forgotten
Our children will never know the richness of their heritage
Out of which their strength has come
They will never know the price paid and the continuous debt being paid
Dr. Pringlemeir stated there is much yet to do in the Novi community. She would be honored to work with the established committee. She has spoken with Ms. Kathy Mutch several times, she is a dynamo. Ms. Mutch has arranged for Novi to be a stop for the Smithsonian traveling exhibit, Barn Again. Dr. Pringlemeir would like to work with the committee in developing lesson plans for teachers in the metro area to use the exhibit as a connection to Novi. She would also like help develop programs for school age children to connect with seniors for oral history programs and to mentor for various crafts. She feels that all seniors are a seriously under used resource. She is aware that several publications by the Historical Commission need to be reworked. She would also like to work on a "tri-fold" for the original Tollgate house. She would also like to see a local history written about Novi and is willing to work on that, plus her husband has offered to help in the writing of the history. She would like to continue with the work that the committee has begun and hopes to be able to add her skills and talents to the mix already present.
Member Sanghvi stated she quoted some of his same beliefs and was happy to hear them. He agreed that society needs to look at the history, where we are coming from, and remind the children of our roots and values. He commented he is also in agreement with her ideas regarding senior citizens. A wonderful resource we have is the senior citizens with their combined years of experience. Dr. Pringlemeir gave an example from her college years. She had wanted to learn to quilt, but being on a tight budget was unable to afford lessons at a store so she joined a group at a local church. She came from the group learning about their lives and what their life was like raising their families. Member Sanghvi asked how much she feels she can accomplish, the goals she stated are wonderful. Dr. Pringlemeir stated she can accomplish them one at a time and move forward. He asked what her top priority was. She responded whatever Commissioner Mutch assigns to her.
Member Lorenzo stated she has no questions for Dr. Pringlemeir; her passion comes through and she will also be a dynamo.
Member Landry stated it is good to see Dr. Pringlemeir again. He further commented that her application was complete, including her reasons for wanting to be on the Historical Committee. He also noted she has served with the Novi Police Department on the Handicapped Parking enforcement team, always a laudable effort. Member Landry quoted from the Bible, Matthew, Chapter Five, The Sermon on the Mound. It is said that a city set on a hill can not be hidden. He asked what she thought the Historical Commission can do to make sure the City of Novi is set upon a hill. Dr. Pringlemeir replied to find out were the rocks are that we stand upon and to teach that to our children.
Member Csordas stated the previous questioning was impressive and that she is an eloquent and articulate speaker. He mentioned that there is a published book about the history of Novi and will give her a call later with the title. She stated she would love to see the book. Member Csordas commented on her enthusiasm and that her dedication would be a valuable asset to the Historical Commission. He also asked if she was clear on what the charge is, what they do, and how they operate. She replied she has spoken with Ms. Mutch several times about the number of projects the Commission is working on. Member Csordas commented her mention of the Barn Again project and stated that is an accomplishment. She replied that she would like to have the quilt group, Novi Needlers, involved with quilting for the show and working with the school children. There are a lot of other lessons to be learned along this theme, math, architecture and such. Member Csordas thanked her for applying.
Mayor Clark had no further questions, as his had been answered. He commented on her enthusiasm and wealth of ideas she already has and stated she would be a wonderful addition to the Historical Commission.
8:10 – Robert Gatt – Zoning Board of Appeals
Mr. Gatt introduced himself and commented he was humbled again to be before them. He explained he applied for the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to continue his desire to service the citizens in any capacity that Council sees fit. He spoke about his background in serving the City for nearly twenty-seven years as a Police Officer, and had retired in May. Today he is the Chief of Operations for the Oakland County Community Corrections Department. He stated the ZBA is a very important body that deals with personal issues and finds it interesting.
Member Csordas commented that as a long time resident and employee of the City he felt Mr. Gatt is sure of the charge and responsibilities of the ZBA. Member Csordas stated he felt Mr. Gatt would do a great job on any committee he was appointed to in the City.
Member Landry asked what qualities does he think a ZBA member should have and what does he think he could bring to the table. Mr. Gatt replied a ZBA member has to be fair in their judgment and be prepared for the meeting, plus to know the issues before hand, and exactly what the issues are. He has experience, from being a Police officer, in encountering people appealing to him with ordinance issues and applying the fairness rule.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Gatt what is more important, fairness to the applicant or adherence to the ordinances of the City. Mr. Gatt replied every situation would be different. He believes the ZBA exists because someone needs an avenue to appeal the ordinances. In some cases the appeal should be granted and in others the ordinance should be adhered to. She explained that on the ZBA, the charge is very focused and direct with regard to hardship, there is not a lot of gray area, not a lot of room for discretion. Mr. Gatt replied he understood that, the reason ordinances are there is because the City Fathers believed the City should be built a certain way, for someone to be granted a variance there needs to be some very extenuating circumstances. He understands what Member Lorenzo spoke of and feels that the ZBA does a wonderful job in realizing that and accomplishing their mission. Member Lorenzo asked if he was still interested in running for Council. Mr. Gatt replied he is still interested, and will be in the fall. She asked what his commitment is to the ZBA. Mr. Gatt replied no one has promised he would be elected in the fall, everything he does he does with vigor and 100% commitment. He will commit to the ZBA 100%, and if he is elected to Council, someone else will be chosen to replace him.
Member Sanghvi asked if he can call him Bob, as he has known him for many years. Mr. Gatt replied to Dr. Sanghvi that he can call him anything he wants. Member Sanghvi stated that because he has known him for so long, he has no specific questions. He asked what the primary function of the ZBA is. Mr. Gatt replied they are there to hear people with problems, barter their problems and come to a conclusion. Again the conclusion needs to be focused on what is right for both the City and the residents. He quoted Member Lorenzo; we are here to serve the citizens.
Mayor Clark commented he appreciated him coming to the interviews, and his dedicated commitment to the community is well known. He also felt Mr. Gatt would be a valuable addition to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
8:19 – Asa Smith – Stormwater Management & Watershed Stewardship Committee
Mr. Smith stated he was before them that evening to ask for reappointment to the Stormwater Management Committee. He has served since its inception and was a part of putting the committee together. He enjoys working with the current members and looks forward to working with any newcomers that may join.
Member Csordas stated Mr. Smith has an advantage with him because over the years he has seen his dedication and contributions to the City, which are appreciated. He has no further questions because he is confident Mr. Smith is serving for the correct reasons and is happy to support him.
Member Landry stated he knows Mr. Smith very well and his dedication to the community. He felt he was to be applauded for everything he has done. Member Landry was interested in learning what Mr. Smith feels is the biggest challenge facing the committee in the next couple of years. Mr. Smith replied he believed the challenge to the committee is in the process of developing the new Stormwater Management and Stewardship Committee. They are under the guidelines of a lot of Federal and State rules and regulations that have to be brought into some sort of implementation and configuration to put the package together. He believes there is dissension about the clarification of where they are going and trying to accomplish. What they are trying to accomplish is the betterment of the stormwater management and the stewardship of the water in the lakes and streams that are within our City boundaries. They are not trying to impose hardships on the developers. They are trying to take care of the waters that are running from what used to be the apple orchards and corn fields that used to be taken care of by nature but are now being diverted in other directions. The committee’s goal is to try and save the land and water from soil erosion. They are going to be looking at many things coming from other directions that the committee will be looking at towards the betterment of the quality of water and wetlands. What the committee has implemented at this time are not strict guidelines, there is still room for modifications and agreements within them. The City is a role model with stormwater management for many other communities and Oakland County.
Member Lorenzo stated she had no questions for Mr. Smith but commended the Stormwater Group for doing a commendable job and to keep up the good work.
Member Sanghvi commented he had no further questions for Mr. Smith; but stated his fundamental principal of do not fix something that is not broken.
Mayor Clark echoed the comments and praise of his fellow Council members.
Mr. Smith commented that he appreciates all the input and believes in the City of Novi. The work that he does is because he believes in the City of Novi especially at the north end, which is were he currently lives and also grew up.
8:27 – David Byrwa – Construction Board of Appeals
Mr. Byrwa stated he is seeking appointment to the Construction Board of Appeals.
Mayor Clark asked if Mr. Byrwa had anything to bring to Council’s attention. Mr. Byrwa replied the City is fortunate to have an outstanding Building Department under the guidance of Mr. Don Saven and Mr. Terry Morrone.
Member Csordas asked Mr. Byrwa to give a brief overview of his responsibilities at the Village of Beverly Hills. Mr. Byrwa stated that technically the Village of Beverly Hills is the largest Village in the State of Michigan. He works for the Village by running their Building Department, and has for the past ten years. Previously he worked in code enforcement for eighteen years at the City of Dearborn and City of Wayne. Some of the organizations he belongs to are the Oakland County Building Officials Association, and is the past president, the Southeastern Michigan Building Officials and Inspectors Association, Building Officials Conference of Michigan, and he has attended the National Code Conferences. The difference between a village and city is that a Village relies on the township government to do their assessing and handle the State and Federal elections. Member Csordas stated how impressed he is with the professionals of Mr. Byrwa’s caliber that sit on the boards and commissions. Mr. Byrwa stated that is one of the things of great communities, the volunteerism among the residents.
Member Landry stated it is his understanding that the Construction Board he is on, is that a builder will come before the board and try to explain why they should not have to comply with certain building codes under certain circumstances. Mr. Byrwa stated that is basically correct, the building code is a minimum threshold of construction. All too often with the advent of new materials and construction techniques something may not be covered in the book, but a builder may present an equivalency to the building code. Member Landry believes with Mr. Byrwa’s experience there is not a builder who can "put one over" on him. Mr. Byrwa replied in this business you are constantly learning.
Member Lorenzo asked if there is anything Council should be aware that may be of interest or help. Mr. Byrwa stated not that he is aware of. The Board tries to equitably and fairly settle the cases that come before them. Member Lorenzo asked if there are any new construction codes that would impact what Council does here. Mr. Byrwa replied there is a difference between complying with the code and feeling they are being a slave to the building code. The code is there for a reason, they have been known to save lives and provide an element of safety in construction. What is frustrating is when politics enters the picture and the likelihood of things being comprised.
Member Sanghvi stated he is amazed at the talent that is in the City and the wonderful people who are willing to share it voluntarily. He commented how much goodness there is in this world, if we try to highlight it there would not be so much bad news.
Mayor Clark reiterated the comments of his fellow Council members. Mr. Byrwa is more than qualified for the position and his resume is outstanding. The Council would be hard pressed to find someone to match his resume.
8:37 – Linda Tomasso – Library Board
Mayor Clark stated Ms. Tomasso has applied for the Library Board and asked if she had any opening remarks for Council.
Ms. Tomasso stated she has volunteered in Libraries from the time she was in the Fifth Grade and through her time in the Army. The Library and Red Cross are her primary volunteer work. The idea of being on the Library Board interests her, she has leisure time being she is retired and no longer a care giver and it strikes her as being a good opportunity to get into another volunteer activity. She assumed there would be an agenda, budget, programs for adding to or subtracting from the plant personnel, and computers. She would like to be in a position to have something to say about that. She is aware that the City’s Library is affected by millage, bond issues and is high on the list for interest in the community.
Member Sanghvi asked what she thinks is the reason we could not pass the bond for the library expansion. She replied she reviewed the study done August, 2002, and found it to be discouraging. She is not certain the expansion entailed the bond issue and millage. The Library in the City is nice; it beats Northville, but not the Detroit Main, very few Libraries do. In the City of Novi we have educated people who need library services. There are some who do not attend Public Schools who need the resources. Libraries are important; she believes it was Benjamin Franklin who instituted the first public library in Philadelphia. She is a big reader of many types of books. To her a library is a tool for education. Without a library, where do you go for information, who do you trust, who do you believe? She would like to be instrumental in choosing books to answer some of these questions.
Member Lorenzo stated she has no further questions, they have been answered previously.
Member Landry appreciated Ms. Tomasso’s candor about her knowledge of the committee and her willingness to serve. He asked her, in this technology age, what she sees as the role of a library in the twenty-first century. Ms. Tomasso responded the role in the twenty-first century is what it always has been, a learning tool, and an ongoing representation of humanity, it tells were we have been. She would rather see a child read a book than spend time in front of the television. She is aware there are computers at the Library were children play games; she is not opposed to them playing games. She stated a function of the library is to provide information to people who need specifics and computers help with that. Ms. Tomasso also stated she is always amazed with the number of functions that the library fulfills.
Member Csordas suggested she attended a Library Board Meeting to see how it functions, the budgetary responsibilities they have and how the process goes.
Mayor Clark asked if she had the power to change one thing at the Library, what is her top priority. Ms. Tomasso replied it would be to make room for more books.
8:48 – Terry Margolis – Library Board
Ms. Margolis stated she was appointed to the Library Board, July 2002, finishing out another’s term. Since she has joined the Library Board it became very clear to her that the Library Board did not have a strategic plan, possibly a few goals for a one year plan. The goals set were very unclear. She makes goals and sets strategic planning for organizations, and believes very strongly in it; you can not move in any direction unless you are very clear in what direction you are going. After she joined the Library Board they have begun that process and is pleased to say it is going very well. They have had a retreat with an expert to begin this process and are on track in the direction they need to go. She stated she would like to stay on the Library Board another three years because she believes very strongly in this process and wants to see this through.
Member Csordas stated he is interested in her statement that when she came to the Library Board there was not a long term plan in place, but in her opinion there is a plan in place know. Ms. Margolis corrected the information stating there is a plan to get a plan in place, currently they are in the process of strategic planning. As a board they met and began to look at goals and are at the point were they identified stake holders of the Library throughout the community. The next step in the process will be discussed at the next Library Board meeting, which will be to gather the stake holders together to start putting together a strategic plan. Member Csordas asked if she could tell Council what the intermediate term plan would be for the Library Board. Ms. Margolis replied her point is that it is the community that sets the plan, and what the strategic plan should do is gather together the members of the community and ask what it is they want the Library to be and what are the goals. Her goal for the Library is that it serves the needs of the community and she does not think they have identified what the community wants and willing to pay for. She feels that as a member of the board she speaks for the community and her job is to make sure the community is heard.
Member Landry asked if she thinks we should be spending our time on a new building or worrying about the services that are provided the citizens. Ms. Margolis believes the building, as it exists, will not meet the needs of the community on going. The community needs to determine what will meet the needs of the community ongoing. She is aware of problems in the infrastructure, the technology needed currently does not exist in that building and there is not the space needed for communities of this size. Basically they have reached the limits of the building and at some point this will have to be addressed. Member Landry asked her what personal goals she would like to see implemented. Ms. Margolis would like to see the Library be a spot for the community to access information. A Library is the center of education and culture. She would like to see the Library connect with the various organizations in the community, such as the schools and complement the services offered by the other organizations. A goal of community organization is to provide what is missing in the community.
Member Lorenzo stated she is pleased that she is willing to continue to serve; it is very obvious that she is bringing her leadership skills to the Library Board. She stated Ms. Margolis has her support and wishes her much success.
Member Sanghvi asked how she would go about finding out what the community really wants for the Novi Library to be. Ms. Margolis replied there are a variety of ways. She is committed to the strategic planning process in which you involve the community. One way is you involve the community on the task force that produces the strategic plan. You have members from the various stake holder groups, such as homeowners, schools, business community, other boards and Council. They become involved in the planning task force. You then have to have a variety of ways of gathering community in-put. You can do it from a forum for the community to come together and discuss issues related to the Library, or a survey. Because the public is very busy, you need to use lots of different ways to see what they want and you need to be cost affective about the way you do that. She does not believe you get a lot of bang for your buck by mailing out surveys to the entire community. There are not a lot of responses. You need to be very creative in what you do. In the planning process you need to listen to the residents as much as possible. If the five year plan is good, with in-put, as you continue along you only need to update the plan.
Mayor Clark stated he was impressed with her resume a year ago and had no further questions. He complimented her on an outstanding job in the last year and would like to see her continue in this capacity.
Council recessed for a break at 8:58 p.m.
Council reconvened at 9:05 p.m.
9:05 – John Chambers – Library Board
Mayor Clark explained that all of the interviewees have had an opportunity to address Council and asked if there is anything he may want to bring to their attention.
Mr. Chambers commented he has been on the Library Board for some time. He serves with great pride and a great love for not only the community, but also the Library and what it brings to the community and what it will bring in the future to the community. He stated the Library is just one cog in the educative and cultural process in a community. The Board needs to keep looking to the future just as they did six years ago when they did some planning and still need to continually do that.
Member Sanghvi stated he has known Mr. Chambers for many years and he has been around Novi and working diligently for the community for many years as well. He commended Mr. Chambers publicly for all he has contributed. Member Sanghvi asked Mr. Chambers to recapitulate for him what he has planned for the Library. Mr. Chambers responded that as you look at the Library you have to look at services and services are what we in a community look for. The Board is constantly looking at what services they give and share with the community as it relates to staff, board and what the patrons are looking for. One of the important services given to the community is the children’s reading program in the summer; it is very near and dear to his heart. He stated this program needs to be expanded; currently there are 1200 participants in a population of 50,000. That does not sound like much to most people, but if it is compared to the largest community in the State, which is Detroit, which has a population of 950,000, they have about 4,000 in their children’s programs in the summer. In Novi we get a lot of bang for our buck for the summer reading program. The summer reading program is keeping the children enthralled with reading and the educative process bodes well for not only the children and adults but also for the community as it relates to the Novi Community Schools and the other school systems in our area. Another area that is near and dear to him are the cognitive skills that we help teach children at a young age and are very important to have throughout their lifetime. Mr. Chambers stated 25% of our borrowers are children, who borrow 50% of the books. In the year 2030, an increase, according to SEMCOG, of about 40%, more children in this community than are here currently; this amounts to 6,000 children. We need to pay attention to this growth of young families. They also need to keep in mind what materials are available to the senior citizens and how this can be expanded. The Library has been very fortunate that the various local clubs have been helpful in many aspects of the Library. Novi has a lot of demographics, a lot of people that the Library needs to serve and continually reach out to. There are a variety of ways to do that; a library in the future will probably be a 24/7 operation, as some libraries are now. The Novi Library currently has some items on line, but in the future you will see more books and videos on line. Because of this some people believe that books will go away, he does not agree, there is a lot of enjoyment sitting down and reading a book or listening to a CD. Their goal is service orientation and how they can bring more services to people and bring those services into their homes.
Member Lorenzo had no questions for the applicant.
Member Landry stated that now the Library Bond did not pass at the last poll and the epic MRA poll tells us that 79 - 15% majority of the voters gave the Novi Library facility and operations a positive rating and believed the existing Library meets the needs of the community. He asked where Mr. Chambers sees the question of a new building. Mr. Chambers replied if you look at the survey of services, you also see the survey stated Library needs to be expanded and updated. One thing that is always interesting is if you do too good of a job, and then cannot expand, people recognize the good job that is being done; this may be part of what you are seeing on the survey. He appreciates the fact that even 79% of the voters said the administration of the Library is running exceptionally well, which bodes well for the Library, its administration, board and the Council that appoints the board. If you check the survey results you will see that 80% stated they use the Library from daily to on occasion. Another thing the epic MRA stated was the Library should look at not combining the ballot issue, it should be separate. The other item stated is the issue should be during a larger election, when you have more voters participating. Mr. Chambers stated the MRA contains a lot of good solid information, and there is a lot to be gained from it.
Member Csordas stated there had been an earlier interviewer who respectfully stated the Library Board did not have a long term plan in place when she was appointed, but now believes there is a plan to put a plan in place. He asked Mr. Chambers to articulate what he thinks a long term plan may be. Mr. Chambers responded there have been various plans in place; you can get into a discussion of nomenclature and what it means, or even look at the ballot issue as presented that evening and where the Library needs to go, which was five to six years in the planning process. Previous Councils have been brought into the process, citizens were turned around, and group analysis had been done for both the size and for services provided. Part of the outcome of the planning process is a document titled Library Space Needs Analysis. He also stated there are different ways that you handle planning. Each board is separate and distinct on how planning is handled. He commented that the Library Board met on the previous Saturday and has a lot to bring back to the Board for their consideration with a plan of action. Member Csordas asked if the current Library structure would support a second story. Mr. Chambers stated no, according to the architectural engineer, if you built above the Library you would have to have different supports, currently there are not the structures for supporting it, you can build around it. Member Csordas asked what his position would be. Mr. Chambers stated he has a hard time tearing down vs. expanding vs. building new; he has looked at what the engineers have said and basically they have said, tear down and rebuild on this site. Examples were given of trying to save a structure, the costs are about the same as to rebuild. Member Csordas asked if the roof leak had been repaired. Mr. Chambers answered it had been about a year or two ago at the cost of $100,000 plus.
Mayor Clark asked if there was one thing about the Library, or its operations, that he would like to see happen. Mr. Chambers replied besides the structure in its current location he would look at a location in the Mall, and other locations of that nature, which has been successful in other areas. Also besides the van that does outreach to the senior citizens, a van that does outreach to other parts of the community, an example would be computers, not everyone has one at home. He commented that the Librarian is an information resource person; the degree they earn at college now states a degree in Library Science and Information. He can foresee the Library co-habitating with City Hall, a possible mini City Hall or Police Station, the schools, and a variety of other things.
9:25 – Kathleen Mutch – Library Board
Ms. Mutch stated there is a desire to share with Council how much a person cares about what it is they are asking Council to let them do, it does not all fit on the few lines supplied on the application. When you start approaching having lived in the community thirty years or more, it is hard to answer the question what have you done if you are involved in the community. She also commented she did not want Council to think she did not care enough to be on time for her interview. She was present at the appointed time and Council was running ahead of schedule.
Member Sanghvi stated he has known Ms. Mutch for many years. He recognizes that anything she makes up her mind to do, she does. He is aware of her past accomplishments, and what she is currently involved in. He has no problems with her continuing to do what she does well. Member Sanghvi asked Ms. Mutch how she plans to do better with the next Bond issue. Ms. Mutch stated it is always possible to do better, no one has it down perfect, circumstances change, the people you work with change, life changes. Personnel on boards change, as do the times with new challenges. She thinks one of the things the Board has done, in the two years she has been on the Library Board, is to recognize that there were people before them that cared and worked as hard as they do, and have for the last five years worked toward a goal. When they started out, they did not know the goal was a new library which would require a ballot issue. She was appointed the year of the ballot issue, coming into something that is in place and doing her part. The election did not go as they had hoped and so they are back to square one. It is now time to take another look and her personal view as there has been a lot of turnover on the board, no one has served more than two years; they need the perspective from people having served more than two years. She asked Council to consider this in their reappointments. Ms. Mutch stated the ordinance was changed that governs the appointments to the Library Board. Instead of five members for five year terms, it is now seven members with three year terms. After the ordinance was changed, there was an influx of new people to the board, who many times are new to the community. This was an excellent mix but also provided an opportunity for everyone to step back and enter into a strategic planning process. This was something that had been done in the past but it ran its course and it was time for a course correction. She stated being on the Library Board is working with people and she feels she does this well. She is the type of person that looks for a common ground with individuals; she rarely finds a person that she cannot find some common ground with. She has respect for other Board Members who do the same thing, when you do this you find a way to move forward with progress.
Member Lorenzo had no questions for Ms. Mutch. She stated they have served together and is aware of her performance on the board.
Member Landry asked what she believed to be the biggest challenge for the Library in the next three years. Ms. Mutch replied currently one of the biggest challenges for the Library is letting people know what the Library is, the services available from the Library.
Member Csordas stated her passion is well documented in the community and long term dedication, which is appreciated. He is confident that she is doing a good job on the Library Board and supports her reappointment.
Mayor Clark asked, forgetting the physical plant, if there is one thing within the Library itself that you could change. Ms. Mutch said the one thing is something that could be taken care of today, without money, which is to have the Library take on the responsibility of being the repository for the memory of the community. It could be the heart of the community. In the past they had a staff person assigned to keep the local history; this can no longer be afforded. She recognizes there are higher priorities and many other priorities that come before having a dedicated area/money set aside for tracking the local history. The tracking of the history of the community tells us how Novi got to be what it is today and what attracted people to it to keep what is special here. In brief, her request is for a local history collection with a staff person that could maintain that, so the history does not stop in 1990. That is when the local history reference librarian moved on to the Burton Collection at the Detroit Public Library.
Council recessed for at break at 9:42 p.m.
Council reconvened at 9:53 p.m.
Member Lorenzo exited the meeting during recess.
9:54 – Susan Thompson – Stormwater Management & Watershed Stewardship Committee
Ms. Thompson thanked Council for giving her the opportunity to interview. She stated her current term on the Stormwater Management & Watershed Stewardship Committee just expired. She feels that with her past experience on the committee and with her work experience she is an asset to the community and she would like to continue serving Novi with the stormwater and watershed issues.
Member Sanghvi stated that she does this type of work for a living, why would she want to do the same thing in her spare time. Ms. Thompson stated she used to enjoy working with communities and watersheds on behalf of people to learn about the area. Serving on this committee allows her to learn a little more about Novi and its issues and apply what she has learned at work and in school to that endeavor. This is something she enjoys doing and does not mind spending her spare time with it. She also volunteers with the Johnson Creek protection group, doing a natural features inventory with them. Member Sanghvi stated that at times Novi is at odds with Wayne County and related local governments, will there be a conflict of interest with her working for Wayne County. Ms. Thompson stated there is no conflict, when she serves in Novi she brings the experience from Wayne County with her and speaks at the committee as a citizen of Novi.
Member Landry asked what she thinks the most significant accomplishment of the committee has been in the last couple of years. Ms. Thompson stated it is helping to establish the Stormwater Ordinance plus working on other initiatives, as well as looking at the Soil Erosion Ordinance, plus how the planning aspects of Novi fits in with the various facets of the oversight of stormwater and watershed issues. Member Landry asked what she sees as the biggest challenge for this community in the next few years. Ms. Thompson responded it is the development and growth in terms of managing watershed and wetlands in the community; you can have both your natural features and have sustainable growth in the community.
Member Csordas stated if Ms. Thompson is reapplying that she must enjoy the position. He recalls her first interview and expertise. He has no further questions and wished her continued success.
Mayor Clark commented the community is very fortunate to have citizens with the wealth of experience that they have. Ms. Thompson is an example of someone who is currently serving on a Board/Commission who has a wealth of experience by background and profession that blends in with the issues that the City of Novi has to address. We are extremely fortunate because it is a luxury that a lot of communities do not have and he is aware of all the hard work and dedication the Stormwater Management and Watershed Stewardship Committee has done in the last year.
Mr. Hogan commented that the handicap spaces at the Library are surrounded by three curbs. When you get out of your car you have to negotiate a ten inch curb. The spaces they have on the east side of the entrance are less than seven feet wide that also opens up onto a smaller curb. In the loading and unloading of a human area they have assigned also has a curb. In the entire front of the patio, he guesses, stretches about sixty or seventy feet and is approximately an inch off the ground before you even touch the ramp, that is more than 20 degree grade, straight up. The ramp is very short and straight up and is difficult to get up even with good legs to push with. On the curb area going up to the patio there are huge gouges all over and can be hazardous to some people with mobility issues. In front of the door of the Library there is a ten inch wide hole in the sidewalk in exactly the middle, it is about five or six inches wide and about and inch and a half deep. He has asked a couple of times to have it repaired but has not been repaired yet. Mr. Hogan also mentioned there is not an appropriate stall in the men’s room that would accommodate a wheel- chair and a door. He stated the ADA computer, for visual and audio issues, that is in use is out in the open, he would like to see it have some type of enclosure and not to depend on an individual to have headphones on to work on the computer.
There being no further business to come before Council, the meeting was adjourned at 10:03 P.M.
Richard J. Clark, Mayor Mary Ann Cabadas, Recording Clerk
Transcribed by Susan E. Blumer
Date Approved: February 24, 2003