Muskegon City Commission Sets 2012 Goals, Including Neighborhood, Sappi, Pere Marquette Revitalization

Andrew Trzaska | February 14, 2012

Muskegon’s City Commission approved its prime goals for the rest of 2012 with a 6-0 vote at its public meeting Tuesday night.

The City Commission and numerous heads of city staff attended a work session on January 27, where ideas and goals for the year were shared and narrowed down:

  1. Redevelopment of Former Sappi Site
  2. Neighborhood Revitalization
  3. Downtown Zoning Change Considerations
  4. Additional Cooperative Service Arrangements
  5. Improve City Employment Diversity (tie w/ 6)
  6. Provide Greater Support for the L.C. Walker Arena
  7. Consider Physical Enhancements to Pere Marquette Park
  8. Pursue Casino Development Downtown

The documented goals are not binding, but does set a tone and mission for sitting commissioners to move forward with until the next goal-setting session in 2013. Most municipalities set theirs in the first two months of the calendar year; Muskegon Heights will hold their planning session on February 21 at 5 p.m.

City commissioners agreed upon the first four listed goals as their top priorities.  Employment diversity and L.C. Walker arena support were tied for 5th/6th place, while Pere Marquette enhancements and a downtown casino were tied for 7th/8th place.

This list appears to be chosen because they are items most, if not all, of the commission could agree upon. From documents obtained from the city:

“The goal of the City at this time is survival. It’s important that the Commission have a consensus rather than a majority to accomplish the tasks that need to be accomplished.”

The “Neighborhood Revitalization” goal is set to focus on rehabilitation and development of houses, public-private partnerships, and code enforcement.

Regarding the L.C. Walker arena, the commission decided to “work with what we have” in Muskegon already by supporting the arena’s new entertainment efforts under new ownership; also downtown, the city will look at rezoning some of downtown areas to spur economic growth. Recently the commission already chose to loosen restrictions on thrift and antique stores.

Plans for a downtown casino have gone quiet in recent months. A development agreement transfer last summer for the Harbor 31 property on the east end of downtown, also commonly known as Edison Landing sparked new momentum, as the new developer is tied to the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians.

The Grand River Band is looking for recognition from the state, which if received could allow them to pursue development of a casino; this group is completely separate from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, who are still pursuing plans for a casino in Fruitport on the old Great Lake Downs site.

Commissioner Sue Wierengo was not present at Tuesday’s meeting for the vote ratifying these goals.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst