What is our City Council up to these days? We have the scoop and the highlights – as well as the lowlights – of the latest council meeting
By Charles Sercombe
This is the second part of the July 12 City Council meeting.
We left off last week with the city manager’s report, which touched on his self-appointment as acting police chief and pending legislation in Lansing that could have significant impact on Hamtramck’s public employee unions.
Councilmember Tom Jankowski has an issue with the county’s care – or lack thereof – of the grassy area around the viaduct on Conant. The grass is about three or four feet tall, and since it’s owned by the county, Jankowski said the city needs to pressure county officials to maintain it.
It just so happened that a representative of Hamtramck’s Wayne County Commissioner Martha Scott was in attendance. The representative said he would look into the matter.
On the mind of Councilmember Cathie Gordon was the opening of a massage parlor on Jos. Campau, which she questioned its legality.
City Manager Bill Cooper said the parlor was shut down before it was fully up and running because the owner failed to get a building inspection and also failed to purchase a business license.
Mayor Karen Majewski questioned whether the city should allow the business to open since it violated city law from the get-go.
It’s been several months since anyone had an issue with the city’s parking meters. This time around, Councilmember Catrina Stackpoole suggested putting stickers on the meters to inform the public the hours of enforcement.
(Editor’s note: It’s generally 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.)
It wouldn’t be summer without a discussion about the ice cream trucks of Hamtramck. There are dozens of them, and when it comes to where they are parked, the issue is sure to stir up debate.
Councilmember Jankowski said some of the owners of the trucks are parking in backyards.
City Manager Cooper said that the trucks can be parked in driveways during the season, but cannot be stored there during winter.
The discussion didn’t end there. During the public comment section, Mike Katynski said one ice cream truck owner on Hanley St. is parking his truck in the backyard.
Katynski said the truck has ruined a catch basin in the alley.
It was also noted that the backyard was converted into a concrete driveway, which is something City Manager Cooper said he will look into.
Katynski also noted that on July 4, another (or possibly the same?) ice cream truck owner ran an electric cord from his truck to inside his house because the power was out.
Councilmember Gordon asked if he called the Police Department about the safety hazard.
Katynski said he did but was told by an officer who answered the call that the department does not enforce code violations.
City Manager Cooper, who recently appointed himself acting police chief, didn’t appear to like what he just heard: “That’s the first the Acting Chief (referring to himself) has heard that.”
(Editor’s note: In a telephone conversation the day after the meeting, Cooper said while it’s not on the top of his list of things he wants to change in the Police Department, he will get around to insisting officers enforce all of the city’s codes – including housing and building codes. He said he’s never heard of a police department refusing to enforce housing codes. Bill, we know it’s been over two years since you’ve been here, but there’s a well-worn phrase the locals know only too well: “Only in Hamtramck.”)
And speaking of the Fourth of July, Nancy Katynski said the use of illegal fireworks was particularly bad this year.
(Editor’s note: We heard the same thing from several readers, who described it as non-stop all day and night until 3 or 4 in the morning.)
Nancy also complained that hardly anyone displayed the American flag.
“If you’re going to celebrate Independence Day … show us you people want to be a part of us,” she said, apparently referring to new immigrants living here.
And in a final note, Katynski said drivers often speed down her street, with the worst time being in the evening. She asked for a crackdown.
“We’re not asking for much,” Katynski said.
Beatrice Woods talked at length about a number of things, but seemed particularly concerned that the city failed to salt her street last winter, which led to her falling down and breaking her shoulder.
She also urged the city manager to tap into federal assistance to attract new businesses. She said she knows an owner of a “Dollar Tree” store who refuses to locate in Hamtramck because of the high tax rate.
City Manager Cooper said he and his administration are “constantly” in contact with state and federal officials on the lookout for grants.
Rick Sky followed up on the council’s earlier discussion on adopting a zoning ordinance for medical marijuana growers and dispensaries. He said charging $5,000 a year to operate a facility seems out of line with what other businesses are charged.
The next City Council meeting is next Tuesday (July 26), at 7 p.m. in City Hall.