Andrew Trzaska | February 27, 2013
Law enforcement, developing Pere Marquette Park, improving relationships with other municipalities, and replacing its retiring city manager are the top four priorities of the City of Muskegon in 2013.
This is according to a finalized list approved by the commission at its full meeting Tuesday night.
The commission had its goal-setting session earlier this month. Traditionally held in late January, goal setting sessions generally drive the council’s and mayor’s agenda from February through the end of the year when discussion new ideas and motions.
The full list developed from the meeting is as follows. Equally-numbered items were deemed at the meeting to be of equal priority:
1. Focus on Law Enforcement
2. Transitional Planning, specifically regarding the city manager
2. Improvements/Developments at Pere Marquette Park
2. Working Relationships with Other Governments
5. Code Enforcement
5. Employment Diversity
7. Re-Use of Melching Property (the Sappi paper mill site)
7. Youth/Jobs Program
9. Help Develop Youth-Friendly Businesses
At a glance, presence of two items regarding the city’s youth appears to tie in with the high priority law enforcement item. A continuing stream of violence involving younger city residents in Muskegon as well as bordering towns most recently took the lives of 18-year old Kentae Jones in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon High School graduate and football player, 19-year old Quinton Miller.
The #2 priority of replacing the outgoing city manager demonstrates that Muskegon city manager Bryon Mazade alerted the council of his intentions several weeks ago. Mazade’s October 1 retirement date only became public knowledge a few days ago. His tenure in the position is the second longest in the city’s history.
Work regarding the use of the former Sappi paper mill site, now owned by Melching, Inc., appears seventh overall on the list. The site occupied much of the commission’s time in 2012, with pollution concerns and a ballot measure attempting to rezone the site among the topics last year. A lower priority signals intent from the city to work on other things in the coming year while Melching continues to clear the site.
A high-tier priority item regarding Pere Marquette Park appears to reflect a desire to improve the city’s image and use of its land assets. The park saw more negativity than positivity in 2012. Troubles brewed around the now-defunct CJ’s on the Beach bar and restaurant in the park, which fell delinquent on tax payments to the city and closed with much controversy. The issue was recently settled in court.
In the middle of the priority list rests a focus on code and ordinance enforcement in the city’s communities and a possible improvement in the city’s employee diversity.
Finally, an item regarding relationship improvement between the city and other municipalities comes in the wake of a protracted conflict between Muskegon Heights, a water provider, and Fruitport plus Norton Shores that eventually involved Muskegon as well.
When Fruitport announced it would leave the Heights system in the next few years, Muskegon Heights and Fruitport plus Norton Shores, its two largest customers, spent most of 2012 negotiating about water rates and other aspects of how the Heights ran its system. Former Muskegon mayor Steve Warmington eventually put forth a plan for Muskegon and Muskegon Heights to unify its water plans, but Muskegon Heights did not agree to the plan. In the end, Fruitport and Norton Shores signed an agreement to soon get their water from Muskegon.