Dexter holds work session for facilities meeting

By Seth Kinker,

The Dexter City Council held a work session on Apr. 8 before their regularly scheduled city council meeting to discuss preparation for the public meeting on facilities on Apr. 27.

That public meeting will be for community input on the ideas that have been studied for the future of city offices, the sheriff substation, and the fire station.

David Gassen of Partners in Architecture, the company that provided preliminary work in mapping out what a potential fire station might look like, was on hand at the work session to go over the presentation planned for the Apr. 27 meeting.

His presentation encapsulated the years of work that have gone into looking into whether a new fire station is viable for the community. The summary that Gassen discussed with the city council included probable sites of interest, a facility assessment for the current station at 8140 main street and the city hall, a needs assessment for the fire station and city hall, concept schemes, conceptual cost comparison, and next steps.

Council member Scott Bell asked how long the presentation was planned to be, to which Gassen answered roughly an hour to an hour and a half with taking questions.

Bell and council member Jim Smith voiced their opinion that it was much too long, with other members of council agreeing.

Gassen and council agreed that background information, information that was pertinent at the start of the talks but is now more well-known from previous sessions, could be cut from the presentation.

Mayor Shawn Keough stressed that if another version than the draft they were looking at that day was to be made, that council needed to see it before the presentation was made.

Another topic of discussion had to do with the format for the public session. In addition to the presentation Smith asked about an agenda for the meeting and if members of council and the fire chief should be available for public questions.

Keough asked that if the fire chief did that for the station, should someone do so for the sheriff substation and city hall?

Council member Paul Cousins voiced his opinion that with the current format, the opinions of the elected officials on the matter wouldn’t be heard properly.

The Apr. 27 public session was also discussed as one of a potential few, in order to get the maximum amount of public input.

Council member Donna Fisher commented that the council had no clear goals when it came to the scheduled meeting, everyone had an idea, but wasn’t sure they all saw eye to eye.

An agenda for the public session was discussed, with the main takeaway being that feedback forms should be given to all those in attendance so their voices could be heard.

Council member Zach Michels asked if the fire hall, city offices, and sheriff substation would be open to the public before that meeting, something discussed when the public session was first brought up.

City Manager Courtney Nichols said there were no current plans for that with the idea coming in the early planning stages of the public session.

“I think we ought to,” said Michels. “If we’re going to talk about it people should be able to see and touch it.”

Keough reiterated that he was hopeful for a good turnout after sparse public turnout at other sessions in the past 15 months.

Cousins responded that it meant two things, one that they don’t care, or two that they trust their elected officials to make the decision, or maybe some other things, but that they wouldn’t know until the meeting.

Keough said it came down to how much money the community was willing to spend, with the money not in the bank for any of the options to be discussed.

“Where do they feel they want to put their money?” asked Keough. A millage was the answer to his own question if any of the options are chosen, which could mean putting something on the ballot.

With shortening the presentation being the key takeaway from the work session, Gassen told council he would send a revised and reduced version to Nichols by the end of the week so they could discuss any other change that would need to be made.

Gassen said that he would aim to make the presentation 40 minutes as a target with comfortable pace and covering the necessary information.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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