The Dedicated Parkland Ordinance from 2003 requires that the sale of the building, officially known as the Scott Center, be placed on the ballot, City Attorney James Smiertka informed the Development and Planning Committee on July 14, changing an earlier opinion he had given the Council.
The Lansing Board of Water & Light wants to move or tear down the building so it can build the Central Substation in the park, at Washington Avenue and Malcolm X Street. Preservationists are fighting to keep the house, which General Motors donated to the city, in its current location.
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and the BWL have called for selling the house to Habitat to Humanity for $1 and moving it to a city-owned lot on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Councilwoman Jody Washington, who chairs the Planning and Development Committee, said she was pleased by Smiertka’s opinion. She and Councilwomen Carol Wood and Judi Brown Clarke have said they will vote to put the issue on the ballot. Five votes of the eight-member Council are needed.
“I wanted the whole thing to go to a vote of the people,” Washington said. “We as a city did everything to make sure it didn’t go to the voters, but now at least voters will get to vote on some portion of it.”
Dale Schrader, vice president of Preservation Lansing, said he was “encouraged by this development because it slows the whole process down. The delay allows time to look at viable alternate sites that do exist instead of only focusing on putting the substation at Scott Park.”
The language must be approved and submitted to Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope by Aug. 16 in order to be on the Nov. 8 ballot.