BRIDGMAN — The Bridgman City Council on Nov. 17 unanimously voted to re-appoint Vince Rose as mayor.
Rose thanked everyone on the council for their votes.
“I’ll do my best to keep going forward with the city of Bridgman and its citizens.”
Stacy Stine was named mayor pro tem.
Council members also welcomed John Bonkoske to the council and it was later noted that he would be participating in virtual training sessions for council members.
City Manager Juan Ganum said the current COVID-19 situation has led to the closing City Hall for the second time (the first closing began March 24).
“Now we’re doing essentially what we can to limit the spread of contagion, protect our employees and protect the public the way we did back in March.”
Going to a three-person rotation in City Hall so there will be someone to answer phones and respond to inquiries and emails.
Mutual aid agreements with surrounding jurisdictions are in place for fire protection while the police department is backed up by the Sheriff’s Department and State Police if the coronavirus hits hard enough to affect those departments. Other city departments also have back-up plans except the Street Department where retired employees could be an option as could private companies.
“We’ve been extremely fortunate that no one within our family of employees has been stricken by the virus or sidelined by quarantine protocol,” he said.
Ganum said Bridgman was the first of 39 units of government in Berrien County to report the 2020 General Election results.
He reported that the number of absentee voters in the city was up significantly from 2016.
Ganum said the city polled residents regarding what types of trash and recycling services they would prefer.
“One of the options we considered is not shifting any cost but still saving money by eliminating curbside recycling in favor of a centralized depository for recycling collectibles here at City Hall,” he said.
Ganum said a quarter of the responses to the survey favored taking that route, while roughly an equal amount want to maintain the current curbside recycling system. But about 50 percent of respondents indicated support for maintaining curbside recycling while increasing the collection frequency to every other week at a cost of $5 per month.
The City Council generally agreed to keep pursuing the issue until enough information can be gathered to make a decision.
Ganum noted that the city has spent $27,000 on 100 tons of road salt for the upcoming winter, adding that the cost per ton has dropped from more than $135 while it now is much lower partly because of the discount provided by membership in the MiDeal program.
Also on Nov. 17, a presentation on a possible Downtown Development Project near City Hall involving “attainable” housing was made by Ed Gausselin of The Argent Group and Eric Neagu and Andrew Johansson (both of the Antero Group).
Ganum said there is a desire to increase the housing density in both the downtown and surrounding areas of the city.
During the presentation it was noted that the proposed vision involves “residential opportunities” for multi-story single units in some of the areas currently dedicated to parking between City Hall and downtown Bridgman beginning near the railroad tracks, along with amenities such as coffee kiosks and landscaping. Thirty to 34 units were said to be the maximum that could probably be sited in the area, although as few as 25 units may still be financially viable.
Council members expressed general support for the idea, with the next step said to be exchanging documents and information to move the project further along.
In other Nov. 17 business, the City Council:
• Appointed Cheri Heward (a partial term), John Murphy and Wayne Hall to the Corridor Improvement Authority.
• Appointed Chris Brooks, Lowell Smith and Jim Last to the Construction Board of Appeals.
During its Oct. 19 meeting the Bridgman City Council:
• OK’d a Purchase Agreement between the City of Bridgman and Harbor Habitat for Humanity in the amount of $28,000 for the sale of 1.3 acres of City-owned property along Vineyard Street contingent on City-borne costs for a boundary survey and Phase 1 environmental review under $4,000 and a 30-day inspection period (with an option to terminate the contract if additional inspection expenses exceed $4,000).
• Approved a three-year agreement to designate John Baumann as the City of Bridgman’s Assessor at a proposed rate of pay of $21,300 per year.
• Was informed by Ganum that the city is still able to offer tax incentives to prospective businesses in six established districts under the Commercial Rehabilitation Tax Act.
• The council heard that repairs had been made to the boardwalk at Weko Beach.
• Recognized council member Rick Fuller’s four years of service with the presentation of a plaque.
• Honored Connie Allee for her efforts to maintain the community sign and flower planters.
• Recognized Wendy Lozeau, Otis Watkins and Rick Fuller for beautification efforts related to seasonal planters.