By Charles Sercombe
The city council met on Aug. 9, and all councilmembers, except for Mohammed Hassan, were present.
During public comment, a resident urged the council to reject a request for a proposed tax abatement to redevelop the former Missant site on Conant.
“It doesn’t make financial sense,” the resident said.
The resident explained that it will cost the city more money in road repairs, due to an increase in truck traffic around the site.
Russ Gordon, Chairman of the city’s Human Relations Commission, said he was “devastated” over Mayor Ameer Ghalib’s accusation that Gordon lied about how a pride flag came to be displayed on a city flagpole on Jos. Campau.
(Gordon has been single-handedly raising funds for the flags each year, and maintaining them. The pride flag was donated. There has been a backlash by some in the community over the city displaying the flag.)
Gordon said “it’s the God’s-honest truth” that he was asked to raise the flag.
He said the display of international flags, and others, makes people “feel good … and accepted in the community.”
He further said that “religious dogma does not justify bigotry.”
Ghalib denied that he had said that Gordon lied. Gordon countered that he has a recording of the mayor saying that, but Ghalib challenged Gordon to show him the recording.
In other matters, Lynn Blasey said that she is excited about the restrooms being built at Veterans Park, but is concerned about the wear and tear on the facility.
Nasr Hussain said the city should not take sides on the pride flag, nor to “killing babies” – apparently referring to abortion.
Bill Meyer, of the non-profit organization OneHamtramck, said the display of the pride flag was “illegal.”
A lengthy presentation was made on the proposed tax abatement for the former Missant site, which would clear the way for its redevelopment.
The company that is planning the development has asked for a 10-year tax freeze on the site’s current yearly property tax payments. The site generates about $60,000 a year in property taxes.
Some of the buildings at the site cannot be used, and must instead be razed.
A new building will be constructed there.
The location would be used by a company called Zbox Global, which is an e-commerce company that sells truck parts.
The company plans to hire 75 new employees, who would then be paying city income taxes.
City Attorney James Allen (who has since resigned) said there are also environmental issues at the site.
(The site was where a previous company manufactured plastic automobile parts.)
Konrad Maziarz, of the city’s Assessor’s Office, said this proposal “is a tool to modernize an area.”
He also pointed out that, out of the $60,000 in property taxes that the site currently generates, only $19,000 goes to the city’s coffers.
In public comment, several Zbox employees praised the company, and said it is “committed” to Hamtramck.
Lynn Blasey spoke in favor of granting the tax abatement.
“If we don’t take advantage of opportunities like this … they will walk away,” she said.
Nasr Hussain said the site could be turned over to developers, who will want to build houses. He also said that the increase of truck traffic will tear up that portion of Conant.
He added: “They lied to you about marijuana.” The meaning of that statement was not immediately clear.
Bill Meyer said he doesn’t trust what corporations say.
“Corporations’ bottom line is to make a profit. As soon as they stop making a profit, they’re out of here,” Meyer said.
He added: “I don’t think the deal is fair.”
Councilmember Khalil Refai said that a 10-year abatement is too long, and offered a counter-proposal for a six-year abatement.
“We’re being fair to both sides,” he said.
Councilmember Amanda Jaczkowski disagreed with Refai, saying that six years is “too short.”
She added that she is confident that the company won’t leave Hamtramck once the abatement period expires.
Councilmember Nayeem Choudhury agreed with Jaczkowski, saying that Hamtramck “doesn’t have much choice.”
City Attorney Allen said that approving the abatement “sends a signal” to others considering development in the city.
Allen noted that “Facebook warriors” have been attacking the proposal and spreading misinformation.
The council eventually motioned to put forward the six-year abatement proposal but also postponed a vote on the matter.
In another matter, the council approved a program with the Homeowners Assistance Fund, which helps homeowners who are struggling financially due to the covid pandemic.
The council agreed to accept a $100,224 grant from the Michigan DNR to pay for design plans to renovate restrooms at Veterans Park. The council also agreed to hire Hennessey Engineers to oversee the design planning.
Councilmember Jaczkowski asked what the operating hours will be for the restrooms.
Interim City Manager Max Garbarino said that this has not been determined yet.
“I haven’t even thought of it, at this point,” he said.
Jaczkowski recommended installing foot baths so people won’t clean their feet in the sinks.
Published Nov. 4, 2022