June 9 2017 01:51 PM

Council to consider investigation resolution; neighbors raising money for possible legal action

FRIDAY, June 9 — Three Lansing City Council members are sponsoring a resolution to investigate how the proposal for a road through Ormond Park mysteriously showed up in the city’s master plan for parks.

And Groesbeck Neighborhood residents announced last night they are raising money to hire legal representation in their bid to stop the city from building an entrance road to Groesbeck Golf Course through the 8-acre neighborhood park.

“Our hope is that outside counsel will know what steps we need to take next,” said Mary Standford, an opposition organizer.

Also, Nancy Parsons-Mahlow confirmed Thursday night that the Eastside Neighborhood Organization had voted to support the opposition to the dedicated road. She said that could include signing onto lawsuits against the city.

The $385,000 road is in the city’s 2018 fiscal year budget, which begins July 1. The Council voted to strip it from the budget, but Mayor Virg Bernero successfully vetoed the Council’s action. A request for bids has already been circulated, with the goal of completion by fall.

Opponents received new ammunition this week when City Pulse discovered that the Ormond Park road proposal apparently was mysteriously added to the city’s master plan for parks without the knowledge of the Park Board or the City Council.

Council members Carol Wood, Jody Washington and Adam Hussain are sponsoring a resolution to investigate how the road got included without the knowledge of either body or the public. That resolution also calls on the administration to cease all work on the project until the investigation is complete. It is expected to come before the Council on Monday night. Resolutions are not binding on the administration.

The plan has been floated twice since 2001, but has been shelved after stiff neighborhood opposition. Under the current plan, the city will use park millage money to put a road through the park from Grand River Avenue to the course. The road would end using side streets to get to the course.

City officials said the plan would decrease traffic and safety concerns in the neighborhood, as well as increase visibility and traffic to the struggling course.

Brett Kaschinske, the parks and recreation director, confirmed that the city has not done a traffic study to verify its concerns. It also does not have a study to confirm the dedicated entrance will have an impact on the number of golf games played.

Organized citizen opposition is not the only problem the road plan faces. As reported by City Pulse earlier this week, the origins of the Ormond Park proposal in the 5-Year-Recreation Plan, referred to commonly as the Parks Master Plan, is in question. A thorough review of available public records show the Parks Board did not adopt that proposal in their Feb. 2015 meeting; and City Council was presented with a hard copy of the 100 plus page plan with the Ormond proposal as the public hearing was getting underway in March 2015.

Lansing City Council President Patricia Spitzely said she believes that the administration should pause the proposal during the investigation.

“While I would hope that stuff would stop while we’re doing that, I don’t think it will,” she said.

She supports the resolution, she said.

“I don’t think that anything was done wrong criminally. But having said, that I think we do owe the public at least a look into what happened. It may be something that’s totally innocent, but it may not be, but we need to at least try to find out how this happened to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”