Berkley city officials have decided to put three proposals on the November ballot that deal with improving the Community Center, City Hall and city infrastructure. Seen here is the potential first-floor plan for a new Community Center.

Berkley city officials have decided to put three proposals on the November ballot that deal with improving the Community Center, City Hall and city infrastructure. Seen here is the potential first-floor plan for a new Community Center.

Rendering provided by the city of Berkley


Berkley sets Community Center, infrastructure ballot initiatives for November

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published February 7, 2018

BERKLEY — City officials have been discussing improving the Community Center, City Hall and infrastructure for some time now, and they are adding them all up for a vote in November.

At the City Council’s Jan. 22 meeting, during a discussion on all three subjects, the group was trying to decide whether to have residents vote on the three ballot initiatives in May, August or November.

After a 90-minute discussion and multiple votes, the council decided to put all three items on the ballot to be voted on during the Nov. 6 election. The worries amongst the council members were that May was too soon to get the ballot language ready and, specifically for the roads and infrastructure millage, there wasn’t enough information ready from studies currently ongoing pertaining to sewers and stormwater.

Councilman Jack Blanchard raised the concern that putting all three ballot initiatives on one ballot might deter people from voting yes on one of them, or it could lead voters to think that three ballot measures is excessive.

Mayor Dan Terbrack said he would agree with that, but if the city is having items on the ballot in November, he said he doesn’t see why — if the items are not going to be assessed at the same time — they would be in a rush to have one in August. 

“We’re gonna have the turnout. I think this is gonna drive even more turnout, and at the end of the day, if there’s enough information and there’s enough engagement and the residents do see a pretty clear need, they will come out and they will vote for them,” he said. “If the case is not made or the needs have not been thoroughly expressed, due diligence has not been made, the residents will certainly let the city know that as well.”

Currently, the city expects a new Community Center to cost around $15.25 million, which would be paid for through a bond proposal. Also paid for through a bond proposal, City Hall renovations are expected to cost about $4.5 million. A road tax for infrastructure improvements would levy 2 mills for 10 years, which would generate around $1.1 million per year.

This information was revealed to residents during an open house meeting Jan. 16.

During the public comment portion of the discussion, Michael Matthews-Pennanen, a former City Council member, wanted to add some historical perspective to the talk.

Matthews-Pennanen shared his disappointment in not being able to get these types of projects done during his time on council, but since the economy has been doing well these last several years, he feels now is the time to act.

“I hope it’s going to keep going, but we have no guarantees,” he said. “You gotta act now. The voters, I think, are more inclined to spend some more of their money now than they may be in five years or four years. As we’ve all talked about, all kinds of room for delay, things take time. So you’ve got an infrastructure that knows how to spend money for the roads, let’s get 2 mills going.”

For the Community Center, Matthews-Pennanen also said it’s needed, and he feels the plan proposed now is something the residents can afford.

“I’m tired of making due,” he said. “Let’s make it a little better. Times were bad. My entire time on the council … was ‘How do we cut back?’

“I’m not saying throw open the purse right now, but now is the time to spend some money on some solid infrastructure. Roads, sewer, Community Center. We deserve it, and I think we should spend the money to get it,” he said.

The entire discussion can be viewed on the city of Berkley’s YouTube page.