Clinton Township trustees reaffirm holiday change

By: Dean Vaglia | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published December 9, 2022


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The Clinton Township Board of Trustees has reaffirmed its change to the township’s list of named paid holidays, recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day on the second Monday in October.

On Nov. 28, trustees voted 5-2 to remove an item that would undo a prior vote on the replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. The plan to undo the change was spearheaded by Township Supervisor Robert Cannon and supported by Clerk Kim Meltzer. Recently elected trustee Julie Matuzak joined the majority.

In addition to the item being removed from the agenda, consideration of a motion to approve the township’s 2023 holiday schedule was postponed until the board’s next meeting. All three of the schedules to be voted on retained a joint Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 9. The vote was postponed because the agenda packet was distributed too late for board members to properly review each item, a concern also raised by a member of the public who regularly comments on agenda items and municipal happenings.

The idea of undoing the change led to a well-attended meeting, where over a dozen people commented against the change. Those speaking against the change included Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, Macomb County Treasurer Lawrence Rocca and Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini.

“I congratulate you for adding the holiday; I can’t believe it’s taken this long for (the) Martin Luther King holiday to be recognized … but taking away Columbus Day is a slap in the face to a lot of the Italian Americans, of which … there is a lot of Italians in Clinton Township,” Forlini said. “I think you need to recognize that they are offended at what was done.”

Sentiments brought up by those against the change addressed the role Italian Americans play in Clinton Township’s economy and community, the role Columbus Day plays in the lives of some Italian Americans, and a sense of offense at the change and how it occurred alongside the township’s designation of Juneteenth and Martin Luther King Jr. Day as paid holidays.

Joel Rutherford, chair of the Democratic Black Caucus of Macomb County, was the only commenter to provide an argument against reinstating Columbus Day on the township’s calendar.

“People should be proud of their heritage, but at the same time, they have to face the truth of things that have happened,” Rutherford said. “Columbus Day is something that for so many feel is basically about colonization, it’s about … where the slave trade started.”


Site plans
Two site development plans were unanimously approved by the board on Nov. 28.

The first plan approved was for an expanded parking lot at the 15 Mile and Groesbeck Highway FedEx facility. The site plan was originally brought to the board on Nov. 14, though it was postponed for further improvements.

“When this was postponed last time, it was actually just postponed to this meeting to allow time for the petitioners to look at the fencing (and) try to do some upgrades that would then allow us to be in compliance with our Groesbeck corridor study that is looking for updates,” Clinton Township Treasurer Paul Gieleghem said.

The point of contention was the appearance of a chain link fence that was to ring the lot. The new plan will have a black aluminum fence along the street facing parts of the property.

The second plan approved by the board was for the LaPaloma at Partridge Creek housing complex. Township Planning Director Bruce Thompson reported that he found the site plan up to code, and the board approved the plan in accordance with his recommendation.


Parks and recreation
At the meeting on Nov. 28, Recreation Director Brian Kay and Director of Public Services Mary Bednar gave presentations outlining a pair of four-goal plans for improving the township’s recreation offerings.

The first presentation focused on the development of a river trail system to facilitate the use of personal watercraft within the township’s waterways. Its first goal is to improve accessibility, which is being accomplished by building new kayak and boat launches in parks adjacent to the river. The second goal is to add ease-of-use amenities in a financially responsible way, one method of which involves adding Clinton River Watershed Council interpretive signage along rivers.

“If you get lost on the river, you have to portage out or you have to somehow gain help, you have signage to identify where you’re at,” Kay said.

Along with helping navigate rivers, the signs allow for emergency services to identify where a caller is located based on the color and number scheme of signs. Clinton Township’s signs are pink with back numbers.

The third goal is to improve water quality, which has been achieved by the township addressing its sanitary sewer overflow issues and building infrastructure in a manner that allows for clean runoff before it enters the river and ground. The final goal is to maintain projects in a sustainable way, achievable by making sure the township will have the budget to maintain its amenities.

The second presentation focused on the improvement of the township’s non-motorized pathways, which is being realized by connecting the existing paths, adding amenities like bike racks and benches along the trails, upgrading and repairing broken sidewalks, and ensuring the township is able to pay for pathway maintenance.