Councilmen worry that two Clapp Park events will be too noisy for neighbors

By Ralph Echtinaw

Two requests to hold Christian revival events in Clapp Park this fall had some city councilmen objecting on the basis of noise and neighbors last Tuesday.

The events in question will be put on by Straight Gate Church (Oct. 2) and Men of Iron (Sept. 25).

Organizers for both events requested permission to use Clapp Park, but no one at Tuesday’s city council meeting believed the city could stop the events even if it wanted to because the parks are public.

Councilman Tom Reed said it might be wise to give nearby homeowners a heads up on such events because they will be noisy.

Councilman Bill Leonard voted no on both requests for use of the park.

“If we get another request to use the park by one of these quasi groups I seriously think I would like to see a representative of that group come and speak to us to actually identify what they are doing,” he said. “The second part would be be let’s get a letter out to the neighbors, anyone within 300 feet, advising them of what is going to happen. I’m not saying don’t approve it, but let’s let people know so no one gets blindsided.”

Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. said he’s not aware of any complaints from past events in Clapp Park, not even after the high school band and a steel band played there.

Downtown Development Authority Director Phil Hansen said “we’re fortunate our local churches are doing these kinds of things.”

The Sept. 25 event will occur from noon to 5 p.m. It’s put on by Men of Iron, a Christian group that features feats of strength such as bending rebar.

The Oct. 2 event will consist of live worship music, a message and time of prayer to observe the Feast of Tabernacles.

Block party

Speaking of outdoor events, councilmen unanimously approved an outdoor party in the 200 block of North Mill Street from 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, in partnership with the Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce.

The River Rock and Blue Shamrock will be open, and food and alcohol will be allowed outside. Woody Black’s band will play. The block will be barricaded to traffic. Picnic tables will be in the street. The city’s plastic outhouses will be deployed.

Old US27 Motor Tour

This annual event will go forth on Thursday, Aug. 26, despite the death of organizer Craig Parrish. “His companion, lady friend or whatever was heavily involved in it anyway so she’s making sure that things go well,” Hansen said.

The classic cars will roll into town at 3:15 p.m. and stay until 5:15.

Gleaners/Boy Scout car wash

The St. Louis Harmony Arbor Gleaners and Boy Scout Troop 609 will hold a fundraiser car wash in city hall parking lot 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11. The Gleaners made a $100 contribution to the city for use of water. 

Pigeon and goose droppings

Ramereiz told councilmen about two women who complained about the sidewalk on North Mill being rife with goose droppings and asked if DPW personnel could possibly power wash the sidewalk. Giles said it would be done.

Councilman Roger Collison said he was contacted by Carla McDaid, owner of McDaid’s Chop Shop regarding pigeon droppings. “She showed me the sidewalk,” Collison said. “It’s a mess. She said she goes outside every day and tries to clean it. They put spikes on some of the sills, but it doesn’t help.”

Councilman George Kubin, owner of Kubin’s Furniture, said he has fought pigeons for years, tried everything, and nothing works for long. “They still come back.”

Giles said, “We usually do some downtown area sidewalk power washing as a part of spring cleanup but, for the most part, depend on the adjacent businesses to do day-to-day maintenance.”

Fear of students without masks

Councilman Tom Reed wondered if high school students attending council meetings in the coming school year should be required to wear masks. (Students in government class are usually required to attend a council meeting.)

“When school starts were going to have kids come in here,” Reed said. “What are we going to do about masks? Are we going to require them to wear masks? We have a right, I think, to do that.”

Ramereiz said the city can’t require just students to wear masks but would have to make everyone wear them.

Reed said “we can force masks on anybody that comes in that door. As a unit we can say you’re going to wear a mask. We should check that out.”

Back in May, when council was on the verge of meeting in person again after more than a year of virtual meetings, Reed asked if people could be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to attend a meeting without a mask.

Ramereiz said no one can be legally required to provide proof of vaccination.

Reed said, “They don’t have to tell us but I’d like to see us ask.”

Ramereiz went on to say it’s against the law to even ask if a person has been vaccinated. “We have no right to ask what their medical history is,” he said.

Reed, by the way, is the only candidate for mayor this year and will succeed incumbent Mayor James Kelly (who is not seeking re-election) in November. (Unless a write-in candidate prevails.)

Giles said via email that the city will “continue to monitor the current conditions and make recommendations for health and safety precautions as we go forward.”

Welcome to the committee. Here’s a gift certificate!

Councilman Bill Leonard threw out a suggestion for recognizing and rewarding volunteer committee members, who to this point have been unpaid. He said members of the various city committees could be given gift certificates to participating downtown businesses. He’s not sure how that would work, however. 

This followed an Aug. 3 discussion where Collison suggested paying committee members. 

There are currently two vacancies on the Cemetery Committee, two on the Compensation Commission, two on Parks and Recreation, one on the Planning Commission and one on Zoning Board of Appeals.

If you would like to volunteer to serve on a committee contact the administration, and they will be happy to set you up.

Penny Park

Council approved spending $15,200 on rubber mulch from Rubberecycle of Lakewood, New Jersey to replace the existing pea stone surface around the park’s playscape. This to comply with the Americans with Disability Act. 

What will happen to the pea stone? “I expect that pea stone will go back in the storage bunk to begin with and eventually be used on excavation projects,” Giles said. “I believe they also use that material for ballast in plow trucks.”

Sewer camera

Council approved purchase of a sewer camera, monitor, 325 feet of cable and a locating device from USA Blue Book for $14,730. “DPW encounters many situations in which a camera is necessary to determine a cause of sewer issues and for providing if an issue is a city problem or a resident problem,” said former DPW Superintendent Mark Abbott in his last monthly report. “DPW has had to hire private contractors for these matters in the past and we believe it would be more convenient, faster and ultimately less expensive to own our own camera.”

Sewer rerouting

Council approved spending $35,400 for engineering work that will ultimately reroute a storm sewer outlet from the Mill Pond to a spot just below the city’s hydroelectric dam on North Main.

Concrete pad

Council approved spending $5,240 with Seifert Concrete to our a 600-square-foot pad inside the electric plant where two old generators were located. Giles said it’s a tight fit, and the concrete will likely have to be brought in in wheel barrows.

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