File photo


Supervisor to introduce resolution to immediately open all township businesses

UPDATE: Resolution pulled - see related story for latest

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published June 26, 2020

Advertisement

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — At the June 29 Clinton Township Board of Trustees meeting, Township Supervisor Bob Cannon is expected to introduce a resolution urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to immediately open all remaining closed businesses.        

In a letter to the Board, Cannon outlined the progression of Whitmer’s executive order — which began with a March 10 state of emergency and extended stay-at-home orders and the closure of schools on March 23 and April 2, respectively.

On June 8, the governor lifted restrictions on dine-in bars and restaurants. However, as Cannon notes, restrictions have not helped all businesses — many of which he alluded to as “desperate.”

One local example is C.J. Barrymore’s, which brings in people locally and regionally with its indoor and outdoor entertainment options. Cannon referred to its owner, Rick Iceberg, and his millions of dollars of investments into the facility, as well as his employees.

“You have a great businessman being hurt, and you have all these young people who desperately need money for their schooling,” Cannon said.

Iceberg said he hasn’t seen anything like the current situation in his 46 years of operating the Hall Road amusement facility.

“It just sucks,” he said. “It absolutely sucks. It makes it tough. Everyone is in the same boat and has the same problems. You can’t shut a business down for 110, 120 days and have it work.”

In recent years C.J. Barrymore's has installed big rides that include a Ferris wheel and rollercoasters. But due to the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown, it has been relegated to selling chicken wings and beer outdoors.

“This is a big park and we have big taxes and big payments,” Iceberg said, adding that Chemical Bank has helped them throughout the past few months.

C.J. Barrymore's was open for just a few days in March until everything was shut down. The money-making season typically lasts 13 to 15 weeks. 

Iceberg said the first real big push for business is spring break, in the first week of April, which provides a 10-day window and “a huge amount of money” to start the season. It also lost “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars” due to the cancellation of field trips for about 30,000 children, as well “easily a million bucks” from corporate parties. Many birthday parties have been canceled or postponed.

After employing about 320 people last year, including 200 to 250 high school and college-aged staffers, another 300 were set to return this year. Currently, C.J. Barrymore's is between 100 and 150 employees short due to people finding other jobs. Iceberg said his team is “scrambling” to find workers.

“There’s got to be a better way to deal with a pandemic,” he said, adding that face masks and signage would be completely fine and that the 25-acre park has plenty of open space. “We’re destroying businesses. … There’s got to be a better way, there needs to be a better system because we could deal with this pandemic in the future.”

Other businesses mentioned in the resolution include movie theaters MJR at The Mall at Partridge Creek and AMC Star Gratiot, Total Axe and the Macomb Center for Performing Arts. Cannon’s resolution did not include fitness centers, which at press time were forbidden from opening due to a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling late June 24.

A handful of bars and restaurants have recently opened in greater capacity, by way of tables added outdoors with social distancing guidelines.

Cannon acknowledged that Whitmer’s “on the right track” with the phases, but also said citizens are desperate for normalcy and want to salvage a shorter season.

The supervisor requested state Rep. Bill Sowerby, D-District 31, to forward the township’s proposal to Whitmer. On June 25, Sowery said the proposal had been delivered.

“I do, however, rely on the governor’s best judgment in deciding what businesses can safely open and when for the overall protection of the public and employees during the very seriousness of this ongoing pandemic,” Sowerby said. “A lot of the public is still very concerned about this pandemic and have concerns about entering businesses and protecting themselves and family members from possibly becoming infected with COVID-19. There is still a lot of concern and fears.”

As for the resolution, which will be discussed in a virtual setting Monday evening, it is unclear whether it will be approved or rejected.

To virtually attend the meeting, visit gotomeeting.com. The access code is 358-448-365. Residents can submit questions prior to the meeting via boardmeeting@clintontownship.mi.gov.

Advertisement