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 Newly elected members of the Warren City Council were asked to consider several important items during their first meeting Nov. 12.

Newly elected members of the Warren City Council were asked to consider several important items during their first meeting Nov. 12.

Photo by Sean Work

New era begins for Warren City Council

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published November 15, 2019

WARREN — Pat Green is the new Warren City Council president and mayor pro tem. Garry Watts is the council’s vice president. Mindy Moore is the secretary and Jonathan Lafferty is the assistant secretary.

All seven newly elected council members attended a ceremonial swearing-in Nov. 9, along with City Treasurer Lorie Barnwell. Joined by Barnwell, City Clerk Sonja Buffa and Mayor Jim Fouts, they officially took the oath of office on Veterans Day.

A little more than 24 hours later, the council gathered for its first meeting of the new four-year term.

“Mr. Green, you are now president of the council and I will pass the gavel to you,” City Attorney Ethan Vinson said to begin the meeting after a brief invocation by Bill Barnwell — a pastor, attorney and the husband of the city treasurer.

During the announcements portion of the meeting, Green thanked the departing members of the council and offered a message for residents about the planned “tone of this council.”

“If there is any announcements that residents want, email us, call us. We want to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on in the city as far as schools, as far as special events,” Green said. “We’ll do our best from this platform to get that out there.

“We’ve heard from several residents as well. We’re trying to talk louder now, and in the (Committee of the Whole) meeting previous. We want to make sure we are as transparent as possible. That’s going to be the tone of this council. You have a question, we will answer you.”

Council members were asked to consider several important items during this first session.

They voted unanimously to take no action on the mayor’s veto of the previous City Council’s last-minute action to increase the number of medical marijuana dispensary licenses by three, from 15 to 18. The vote was 7-0 to receive and file two related items.

The council also heard from City Engineer James Van Havermaat about various ongoing road projects, now beset by bad weather.  Three contracts were modified. Work on Ryan Road between 11 Mile and 13 Mile roads totaled less than expected, and the council voted 7-0 to amend the contract to reflect the $62,618 in savings, for a final amount of $3,052,922. The council also unanimously approved contract increases of $126,845 and $3,090, respectively, for concrete work at the Department of Public Works and on Lawson Avenue.

A request to award a bid of $363,936 for the installation of mulch and board timbers at various play structures in city parks was tabled after a motion to do so was made by Councilman Jonathan Lafferty.

“I’d like to understand the full scope of the park improvement plan,” Lafferty said. “During the summer months, a $3.6 million expenditure was approved for the improvements of our entire parks system. I’d like to understand when these improvements will begin, the duration of the projects, the scope and size of each of the line items, and a full accounting of that plan before we begin to approve any major expenditures for this project.”

The council unanimously approved a $9.7 million bid for improvements at the city’s Nine Mile Road Pump Station. Todd Schaedig, the facilities engineer at the Warren Waste Water Treatment Plant, told council members the improvements are necessary to drain a new relief sewer along Nine Mile, which, in addition to the massive stormwater retention basin planned for the former Roosevelt Elementary School property on Stephens Road east of Schoenherr Road, is being built to alleviate the potential for basement flooding in the southeastern corner of the city. Schaedig said the three-part plan could total up to $85 million.

Before the audience participation portion late in the meeting, Green said the council would be “strongly considering” moving the segment to the beginning of the agenda after discussion during the committee session. He said the suggestion was made by several members of the council and the audience.