By Sue Moore
More than the usual complement of citizens attended the July Vicksburg Village Council meeting seeking answers to problems they felt were particularly vexing.
Renee Poirier, 713 Best Street, asked for help settling a delinquent tax bill, which she believed was beyond her responsibility. Poirier purchased a trailer on property next door to her home, and subsequently found that there were unpaid water bills associated with the trailer, bills that apparently were never delivered. With interest charges compounding the problem, the current bill sits at $2,385. Ken Schippers, village manager, told Poirier that he believed the debt had been written off some time ago and she would not be held responsible.
Denny Olson received in the mail a notice of unpaid taxes. According to Olson, the village treasurer took his cash payment and never recorded it. Ron Smith, president pro tem, who presided at the meeting, told him that eighteen such cases are now being studied by the Kalamazoo County treasurer’s office.
“We are taking steps to track all checks that weren’t marked paid; however, since Olson’s payment was made in cash, his has not been found as yet,” according to Schippers. “We aren’t hiding anything, just trying to get to the bottom of it.” Olson also lodged complaints about 1) fireworks noise and 2) the tornado siren’s unnecessary sounding.
Nancy Mackenzie asked for more trash cans at Sunset Beach and additional sand on the waterfront. She was concerned about the weeds and wondered if the lake could be lowered so that more of the offending growth could be harvested. Smith lives on the lake and said the association is doing all it can to control the weeds. Lowering the level of the lake would likely do more harm than good.
Schippers presented the results of a study he recently conducted on the quality of roads in the village. It came as something of an eye opener, since the Council has only a small budget to repair what appears to be a giant hole in the system. Of the 18.2 miles of roads within village limits, 7.30 miles are state funded and all have curbs and gutters. Then 3.23 miles are federally-funded main truck routes and include Richardson, Kalamazoo, and Prairie streets. Another 14.13 miles are classified as local roads. Schippers rated 0.27 miles as failed; 3.59 miles as very poor; 3.21 miles as poor; 6.55 miles in fair condition; 4.43 miles in good condition; .14 in very good repair; and .24 miles in excellent shape. These findings have long-term implications for future budgets, he told the Council.
Citizens discussed a change to the alley running east and west between S. Michigan Avenue and Main Street. Smith asked that it be changed to a one-way street going west from Main Street to the library, which would retain its two-way entrance. Smith declared a conflict of interest, in that he owns a house at the Main Street entrance on the south side. Cars entering the alley from Main Street tend to run up on the lawn of the neighbor on the north side and thus cause damage to his yard. The alley is very narrow in this entrance, Smith reported. The Council approved the action to make the alley one way. Smith abstained.
Concern over capping the new pavilion on the north and south ends was brought to the council’s attention by Schippers, who felt he was caught in the middle of a controversy. Some community members felt that the wood in the top rafters needed more protection from the elements than just the sealant that has been applied thus far.
Chris Newman, a council member involved in drawing the plans for the pavilion and helping to build it, refused to believe this would be a problem in the future if the property is properly maintained. Smith recommended that the village monitor the condition of the building. He asked Schippers to bring back additional information before the Council decides. Newman commented that the Timber Framers Guild, which helped construct the pavilion, builds exposed joinery all the time. Newman said that white oak is fairly rot resistant, but does require annual maintenance.