By Lonnie Huhman, email@example.com
The first Dexter Forum of 2019, saw continuing concerns and questions about pedestrian safety and marijuana legalization.
However, it began on a more positive note from the Dexter United Methodist Church.
Pastor Matt Hook was in attendance to invite everyone to the grand opening at the church for the unveiling of its new renovations and spaces constructed over the past year.
With renovations and additions, Hook said the church’s goal was to go back 150 years ago when churches were seen as semi-public properties for their communities. He said it’s a place for the whole community.
He said what makes the church so special are the people.
The grand opening takes place Friday and Saturday, Jan 11-12, at the church, 7643 Huron River Drive.
There will be activities such as tours, cooking demonstrations and Nerf Club beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday and even more the next day beginning at 8 a.m. with basketball in the new gym and pickle ball and walking track at 9:30 a.m., and then at 1 p.m. there will be children and family time in the new gym with inflatables and games, and then the ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m.
These are just a few of the activities.
For the entire list of activities, call the church at 734-426-8480, or go to dexterumc.org.
In turning to the ongoing questions of how marijuana legalization will look in Michigan, much of the talk again centered on local governments regulating it and the challenges that come with that.
Several local officials were in attendance, including Webster Township Board trustee John Scharf, who at the last forum was asking for community input about the business-side of the new marijuana law. He said the township is looking to make a decision on whether or not to allow commercial, business-related marijuana facilities.
The township will look at the issue during its upcoming meetings.
Scharf said since asking for input, the township has heard a lot of views from its residents. He said on the whole they heard people are OK with the lawful, personal use of it, but do not want to see it commercialized in Webster.
“Think of it this way, you might want the freedom to use a car, but you might not want a car factory in your neighborhood,” Scharf said.
Local resident Dan Chapman said in his personal opinion he voted against the marijuana law, but he accepts the passing of it. Moving forward, he said he was concerned about what could happen to the ambiance of Dexter if marijuana-related businesses were allowed in.
Dexter city council member Paul Cousins said the city would have a public hearing on the topic on Jan. 14. Cousins said the city previously has not put any support behind the commercialization of medical marijuana in the city. He said the city will potentially decide on a stance on the commercialization of recreational marijuana at its next meeting.
The issue of pedestrian safety again was a hot one. One city resident said all ages of pedestrians needed to be concerned about bad driving around Dexter. She said some drivers are not paying attention.
Dexter school board president Michael Wendorf was in attendance and he said pedestrian safety was a great concern for the school district. He said its shortage of bus drivers, which led to the cutting of the bus route to Morning Star Child Care and having the kids walk the few blocks to aftercare business, has put the safety topic under the spotlight even more recently.
He said part of their effort to address concerns had them going to the city and telling the city the district would help pay for pedestrian-activated lights. However, he said that was met with resistance.
He said he’s always encouraged walking for exercise and health, but there are concerns about safety, especially with the volume of traffic increasing and the additions of the roundabout along with drivers getting used to them.
Cousins said the city is not the bad guy here and is always concerned about pedestrian safety. However, he said there are laws and regulations the city has to follow when it comes to determining pedestrian safety measures.
In a previous Sun Times News story, Dexter Mayor Shawn Keough said the Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons or RRFBs at Grand Street and Baker Road was an appropriate location to be installed because the crosswalk is across three lanes of traffic.
Keough also stated, “Unlike crosswalks at intersections, the State of Michigan has no law related to mid-block crosswalks, whether they have a flashing light or not. What this means is midblock crosswalks do not provide any additional protection from a legal standpoint…While a yellow light at a signalized intersection means caution, a yellow light (flashing or steady) at a mid-block crosswalk is just a light. In the case of a crosswalk that has an RRFB, what this means is that a motor vehicle is not required to stop.”
The Sun Times News is working to follow-up with the city about the exact regulations it has to follow.
In their Forum notes on pedestrian safety, Forum moderators John Hansen and Karl said, “Sometimes issues just pile up on top of one another.”
“We are grateful for our newly improved roads and better traffic flow,” the Forum notes said. “We are encouraging our kids to walk to school when practical. The kids need to cross the roads where folks are going faster and faster. Crossing guards, lights and signage are needed. Bridges and tunnels were discussed.”
The notes concluded, “The responsibility is shared by the schools, the city and the road commission – all of whom were represented in the room today. We also had concerned parents and pediatricians. We don’t necessarily try to solve problems at the Forum, but we do attempt to develop a better understanding. We all did agree that the drivers of the cars hold primary responsibility and none of the proposed remedies will work if drivers ignore them.”
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan.19, at the Dexter Wellness Center on Baker Road. Topics, as usual, will be determined by those in attendance.