Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bridgeport Building and Grounds Meeting July 29th 2014 - Fire Department Safety Assessment

Bridgeport Fire Chief Pat Nelson gave a presentation about the Fire Department Special Assessment that will be placed before the Bridgeport voters.
They discussed two different options.
The first option is a $45.00 assessment that would cover only maintenance and repairs of the existing Fire Department Building and the maintenance of the fire apparatus and equipment.
The second option is for a $55.00 assessment that would cover a new building for the Fire Department and also the maintenance of the fire apparatus and equipment.
There is no new staffing included in the assessment and the assessment would be for a 10 year period.  Also important to note about the assessment is that none of this money is captured by the Bridgeport DDA Board.  Some residents seem to be concerned about that and that needs to be clear to the residents.  The residents also need to know that if things change: such as some of the repairs don't need to be made, the financial situations change, the fire department is able to get some grant money for some of these repairs or new equipment, then the assessment would be adjusted accordingly.  Translation - The township would adjust the assessment down to perhaps $40.00 instead of the $45.00.  It would be reevaluated on a yearly basis I believe and adjusted as needed.  I don't believe they can adjust it over the $45.00 assessment.  I know many people in our community won't believe that the township will adjust the assessment down but we will just have to have faith and trust them.

The Building and Grounds Board members voted to go with the $45.00 assessment and they will present that to the Township Board.  We really need a new fire department building but sadly there is little chance to get that $55.00 assessment passed by the voters.  They will look at possibly going with another option in the future for something like a bond to finance a new building.

This meeting was a little over a hour long and very informative.  Chief Nelson gave a very detailed report on the condition of the fire department building and the equipment, the upcoming needed repairs etc.  The current building was built in 1972 and is in need of some major repairs.  Are residents aware that the second story floor is separating from the wall?  Most residents have no idea how much fire apparatus and equipment is used by the department and the costs involved in maintaining it or replacing it.
There was some excellent  discussions in this meeting by Chief Nelson and the board members about the needs and problems faced by our fire department and our community.  Are residents aware that one of the old vehicles broke down on the way to a call for a cardiac arrest?  One of the members mentions a Bridgeport resident Joey Popp who is alive today because of our emergency services here.  I suspect most residents have no idea how often our fire and police departments are called into service.  You can see the statistics on the calls they respond to on the Bridgeport Township website and the calls are posted in the weekly Birch Run Bridgeport Herald newspaper.  When you look at the statistics they are just numbers to most people, until it is your house that is on fire, until it is you or one of your family that is having a heart attack, until it is your home that was just broken into.  Sadly it not until then that many people realize the importance of the services our fire and police departments provide.  I have heard talk from some in this community that we do not need a fire or police department -- Maybe in some utopian fantasy world that might be true, but it is not true in our present world here in Bridgeport.

There was some very honest and important discussion in this meeting.  The Bridgeport residents need to hear the information and understand it.  Then they need to make a decision, will they vote to support our Fire Department, and also our Police Department, and help to ensure the safety and quality of life for our community and it's residents?  I hope they do.

** Chief Nelson has stated on several occasions that if anyone would like to stop by the Fire Department and look around and talk with them they would be more than happy to show you around and answer your questions.

Bridgeport Planning Commission Meeting July 28th, 2014

There were only several items discussed at this months meeting, but it is still a very informative meeting.  I learn something new every time I attend most of our township meetings.  I wish more residents would attend these meetings.
Under New Business:
1.  Parking lot time extension request for Abundance Grace Ministries starts at 3:20 in the video.
2.  Site Plan Review for Dixieland Properties, AKA Bridgeport Mini Storage, starts at 20:50 in the video.
Under Old Business:
1.  Master Plan Update discussion starts at 40:05 in the video.
You can view the Master Plan on the Bridgeport Township website - Bridgeport Township Master Plan Draft 2014

The next Planning commission Meeting will be held October 27th, 2014 at 7pm

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stolen Signs, Straight Facts and Other Musings This Week In Bridgeport

My first rant is about the low life that is stealing the Bridgeport Library Millage Signs.  I really don't know what to say about this, well I do actually have some thoughts but they would probably get my blog banned from the internet.  I will just say that you have to be the lowest of lowest to steal these signs.

My second rant is about people that need to get their facts straight and tell the truth about the Bridgeport Public Library Millage Renewal.  I saw this sign yesterday alongside a road here in Bridgeport and was in disbelief that anyone would even put this up, or leave it parked alongside a public road.
This is not a New Millage!  This is a RENEWAL of the old millage of 1.5 mills that we have voted to give to the library for years.  You can see more details on a earlier blog post -
Is someone upset that it may cost about $50.00 per year to support our library?  $50.00 is just a few nights out in our local bars, I don't think that is too much for someone to give up and it would be a healthier option for people!

There is no millage for the DDA!  Let me explain this again... The DDA captures a small percentage of taxes here in Bridgeport. 
I don't remember the figures exactly of what they collect but I believe it will be about $30,000 from the library millage; $44,000 from the Delta College Millage; $100,000 from the Bridgeport Township taxes and  about $180,000 from taxes collected by Saginaw County.  Sorry if I don't have these figures exactly right, but they should be close.
You can see that the smallest amount they will be capturing will be from the Bridgeport Library Millage Renewal.
I have heard that a person or people want to "dry up" the funds going to the DDA.. OK, if that is your reasoning, then why are you only harping about the Bridgeport Library Millage when that is the smallest amount the DDA will receive?  Will you also be opposing the Delta College Millage when it comes back up for renewal in 2015/2016?
Why not lead all the residents,  at least the residents that live in the DDA District since they are the only ones that the DDA actually captures from, Why not lead them in a total tax revolt?  That would be the way to dry up the DDA funding, not by picking on the poor library.
So if you defeat the Library Millage you will only deny the DDA $30,000 BUT you will cost the Bridgeport Public Library close to $300,000 which is about 80% of their operating budget.  Who will be hurt the most by the defeat of this millage? 
If you are so dead set against the DDA, then man up and take on the DDA;  but please do not make the Bridgeport Public Library the "collateral  damage" in your battle against the DDA.

Now for my last rant of the day.  The people who leave their trash in our public parks!@#$%^&
As I took my morning walk through Lyle Park I also carried a small bag with me and picked up some of the trash that was lying alongside the trail.  It included things that have washed up in flooding, things that have been there for years, the plastic bags that fly across our land in the winds, and of course the trash that the users of our parks leave behind.
One of those pieces inspired me to take this photo:

Which piece of this trash inspired this photo?  Was it the beer can? No.    It was the Nature Valley Gluten Free Nut Health Bar Wrapper!
Obviously the person that ate that bar is health conscious.  I would think then they would also be conscious about our environment, but obviously they are not :-(

Bridgeport's Historical State Street Bridge Makes News Headlines

I felt a lot of pride when I saw that our beautiful bridge made it into this news story!
Our bridge is on page 15 of the story.  It talks a little about the condition our bridge was in and a little about the history of the type of bridge it is and about the restoration.
The story is "Roads to Nowhere: 20 Abandoned and Disused Bridges Around the World" By Stephanie Valera Published: Jul 20, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT
Photo from 2008 used in the article.

I wish they had also used a current photo of the bridge as it is today to show the contrast.  Here is a photo I recently took.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Importance Of The Bridgeport Public Library Tax Proposition

There is a lot of talk going around Bridgeport right now concerning the renewal of the tax for our public library.  The correct facts need to be put out to the public about this tax.  I will start with addressing some of the talk I am hearing:

1.  This is NOT a tax increase - this is a RENEWAL of the 1.5 mills that was already in place.  The millage has expired and this is just a renewal of that millage.  According to information provided by the library, the average Bridgeport homeowner will pay roughly $50.00 per year for this library millage.  From the proposal as it appears on the ballot, it reads:  "..levy a tax for the operation of a free Public Library in the Township of Bridgeport at a rate of taxation of 1.5 mills being $1.50 per $1,000.00 of taxable value on all taxable real and personal properties for a period of 6 years, from 2014 - 2019 inclusive..."

2.  A comment I have heard is that this is not really necessary for the library, it is just a hidden ploy to get more money for the Bridgeport Downtown Development Authority.  That theory just boggles my mind.
First lets go over how the library is funded...  81.74% of their funds come from property taxes.  That is what this renewal is for...  10.25% of their funds come from penal fees...  5.08% comes from "fines, fees and other"...  2.14% of their funds come from state aid...  and lastly they get .79% from interest.  You can see from the above list that over 80% of their operating budget comes from the property tax millage.  We would not have our wonderful library without this money.
Secondly lets discuss how the DDA board is funded. They are funded by capturing a small portion of the tax dollars from properties that are located only within the DDA district in Bridgeport.  Here is a map of the Bridgeport DDA District that you can view online -- Bridgeport DDA District Map
There is no separate tax for the DDA.  From what I understand, they capture a portion of the taxes that go to Saginaw County, Bridgeport Township, Delta College and also the Bridgeport Public Library.  The DDA board will receive about 10% of the library tax renewal millage money.

There may be people that don't want any of the library's tax funds to go to the DDA, BUT is that any reason to vote NO on the library tax renewal?  The DDA board can be seen as a blessing or a curse but that is a debate for another day.  This tax renewal is only about funding our Bridgeport Public Library.
I will be voting yes on the tax.  If this millage fails, it is the Bridgeport Public Library and the Bridgeport Residents that will be the biggest losers.  If you have never been to our library before I urge you to go and check it out.  See everything they have to offer, talk to them.  I personally get more than $50.00  per year use from our library.  This is money well spent!!

The website for the Bridgeport Public Library -
They also have a Facebook page -- Bridgeport Public Library on Facebook

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Sunday Morning Adventure In The Cass River

It was a beautiful foggy morning along the Cass River here in Bridgeport so I took my dog for our early morning stroll.  I was lucky and found the last tire that was lying along the trail in Lyle Park and got that out. Finding that tire really made my morning and got me inspired to try and get those wood pallets out of the river.  Went home and got some knee high rubber boots and thought I was ready to tackle the river.
My plan didn't work out quite the way I thought it would.  The river was deeper in that one spot than I thought it was so I ended up with boots filled with water.  The river bottom was very mucky and I was struggling with sinking in the muck.  The pallet was about the size of 2 to 3 pallets but you couldn't tell that until I actually got it out of the water.  So as I was struggling to drag that large water logged pallet to the river bank, while also trying to not sink and get stuck in the mucky bottom, I ended up with my bottom sitting on the river bottom.........  I am sure I was a sight to see, especially once I got myself and the pallet out of the river and up the bank.  I was soaked to my waist and covered in smelly muck.
I can laugh at it now and it was worth it get that pallet out.  There is still one more pallet out there but I will wait till I come up with a better plan to get that one out.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Good Day In Lyle Park!!

I will admit that I am predisposed to always think the worst of Bridgeport Township's government, departments and employees  Gladly I have been proven wrong.  
Our Parks and Recreation Director Bill Wheeler took the time to talk with me after the DDA Board Meeting the other day about the tires in Lyle Park.  So today with a little coordination we were able to get 6 tires and a little other trash out of Lyle Park.  The photos may not look like much but to me it was a big accomplishment!
There is more trash that needs to be cleaned up there but it takes time, money and manpower.  I learned that the manpower and budget are the biggest problem to keeping these parks maintained right now.  I will work with Bill Wheeler and slowly get some more of the trash cleaned up.
Bill Wheeler is very knowledgeable about the issues with our river and does have some good plans for the parks and my beloved Cass River.  If he can get these things done, he will be my Hero!

The Cass River Greenway will be having a river cleanup on the Cass River out in the Caro area on July 26th this year.  I hear that 2015 the river cleanup will be here in Bridgeport on the Cass River.  I am already excited about that!  Cass River Greenway Events

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting July 9th, 2014

Discussed at today's Downtown Development Authority meeting:
Under New Business -
1. 4422 Williamson Project - Site Development which starts at 4:56 in the video.
2. Historic Bridge Sign which starts at 7:45 in the video.
Under Old Business -
1. Canoe Launch which starts at 10:45 in the video.
2. DDA Flowers - Update which starts at 13:45 in the video.
3. "The Rock" @ I-75 - Insurance which starts at 16:36 in the video
4. Great Lakes Discovery Center which starts at 18:12 in the video.
5. MDOT I-75 - Public Open House which starts at 20:35
6. Dollar General which starts at 24:50 in the video.

DDA Coordinator's Report starts at 26:54
DDA Member Comments start at 31:30

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th Update On The Cass River, Lyle And Davis Parks In Bridgeport Township Michigan

This was the best thing I saw at the Cass River today, a Soft Shell Turtle basking out on one of the many logs that lie all along the bottom of the river.

There used to be so many turtles in the river and the pond in Davis Park but it has been years since I have seen any.  In the pond and park area you could always see my favorite turtle, the Painted Turtle.  But since the pond is silted in and dried up the turtles aren't there anymore.  There used to be Snapping Turtles also but I haven't seen one of them in years.  I miss the Painted Turtles but not the Snapping Turtles.
So I took my dog for the long walk and thought I would check on the water levels inside of the seven tires that lie alongside the walking trail in Lyle Park.  I could only get to one of them because of the high thick weeds.  There was plenty of water in the one tire I could get to and it wasn't too nasty since we have had so much rain lately. I took three scoops of water out of the tire and didn't see any mosquito larvae swimming around in it.  Normally the mosquito's would be so thick down at the river that you can't even stand to be there but they weren't bad today.  I went during the sunny afternoon period so that helped but I give most of the credit for the lack of the "mosquito swarms" to the Saginaw County Mosquito Abatement Commission.  I placed the one tire up alongside the walking trail and if I can get someone to help me I will get the rest of them up out of the low area and out of the park.
I let my dog go swimming today and she was happy!!  The water level is a little higher than normal for this time due to the rains but there are still places where there are only several inches of water.  Soon the sandbars will be exposed and you can walk from one sandbar to the next all around in the area of the river by the Fort Street Bridge.  It just boggles my mind trying to figure out how Bridgeport Township thinks anyone will be running canoes up this river.  With the low water levels, sandbars, trees, and the many logs that line the bottom of the river, and the garbage; this is the last place I would want to go for a canoe ride.  Something has to be done to fill the canal back in that Bridgeport Township dug and to repair the damage to the pond and river!
The pools of stagnant water in the canal are back up, but the pond in Davis Park is still mostly dried up.  So the fish and turtles are gone now that the pond is gone, but so is most of the other wildlife that was there.  The pond and river would be so full of Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Canadian Geese, various breeds of ducks.   I even saw a pair of Comorants that came for several years to the river.  Out of water, the birds that you would commonly see here in the park and river area were Bald Eagles,  various breeds of Hawks.  There were a pair of Red Tail Hawks that were in the park almost everyday for years.  Lots of other birds like Northern Flicker, Baltimore Orioles, Bluebirds.  Most of these birds are gone now from the park and river area.  I did see a pair of Bluebirds along the river twice this spring and there was a pair of Bald Eagles that came during the flooding earlier this year.  This is the first time in years that I have seen either of these birds here. There were also a couple of Canadian Geese and their hatchlings in the pond when there was still enough water there for them.
There is the huge Rookery over in the wetlands across Fayette St. and it appears that they had a good hatching over there this year, but you can watch them flying away everyday to various points, but not to the pond or river here.  Only three times have I seen Blue Herons in the pond and river here this year.  There were Fox, Muskrats, Groundhogs, Raccoons, Coyotes, even some Mink that were here for several years in the park.  No mistaking their smell!  I saw them several times over the years but there has been no sign of the Mink in years now.  The one animal that is still here are the White Tailed Deer, maybe not as abundant as they were in the park and river area, but still here.  Most of this wildlife is gone now and all I can think is that is seems to have corresponded with the decline of the river and pond because of Bridgeport digging that stupid canal and screwing this whole area up.  All of this was destroyed so Bridgeport could put a canoe launch in the pond in Davis Park back in the 1970's.  Now the canoe launch is gone, everything is destroyed and Bridgeport Township now wants to put in two more canoe launches.  I don't think the Township employes that are planning on doing that have any idea what is going on down here at the river.  They have probably never walked down here, never observed the wildlife, never enjoyed this once beautiful Cass River.  Either they are totally clueless or they just don't care what is happening here.  They are making no attempt to fix this mess or even clean the garbage up out of the parks and river, well unless you want to count them burning the trash in Davis Park as an attempt to clean it up.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting July 1st, 2014

I should mention that it didn't sound like the microphone was at the public podium so you will probably have as much trouble hearing what the public speakers had to say as I did sitting just a few feet away.

The first item on the agenda was the Public Hearing for Orchid Unique Instruments.  They are requesting a tax abatement.  I couldn't gather enough details from what was said there to be able to tell you the exact details of their request.  How much and for how long?  I don't know.
Unique Instruments has been here for 17 years, I suspect they are here to stay.  They have a beautiful facility and grounds, they seem to have a growing business.  I would say that they are a asset to our community.  I don't have a problem with giving a tax abatement to Unique Instruments in particular, my problem is with giving tax abatement's period.
The use of tax abatement's and Downtown Developement Authority Boards are tools often used by local governments to lure in new businesses and keep others from leaving.  But do they really work?  I have read some good articles over the years, especially about DDA boards.  What I have gathered from them is that municipalities will actually do better by just keeping their taxes low for all the businesses and keeping their regulations "user friendly".  With lower taxes, it will give all businesses a fair and equal chance to prosper and it would seem like common sense that it would also attract more business.  Same goes for taxes and regulations concerning attracting more residents.
The use of tax abatement's and DDA boards seems to pick the winners and losers in a municipality.
You can go to Google and find as many articles as you can stand to read about the pro's and con's of tax abatement's, same for DDA boards.  I picked out just two of them on the effectiveness of tax abatement's.
The Ugly Truth About Tax Abatements
The Effectiveness of Tax Abatements  

Next up was the Public Comment Period and there were two speakers.  The first speaker I believe was Mike Szukhent (my apologies if I have this gentleman's name wrong) from the  Birch Run Area Chamber of Commerce.  He had nice things to say about Bridgeport.
I still just do not understand why Bridgeport Township is joining with the Birch Run Chamber?  What happened to the Bridgeport Chamber Of Commerce?
Why do we have to have the same flower pots as Birch Run does?  Did they spend $10,000.00 on their flower pots?  Why do we have to use the same greenhouse as Birch Run does?  Why should we have banners on our poles just like Birch Run does?  On and On.........
I mean no disrespect to Birch Run but We Are Not Birch Run - We Are Bridgeport.  We are unique and special.  Maybe some of our current elected leaders and public employees should just move to Birch Run.
The next speaker was Mr. Eddie Foxx of Bridgeport and he spoke about, had some questions about, the sidewalk repair plains and the upcoming public hearing concerning the repairs.
My first thoughts on the sidewalk issue was do the residents have a choice in whether sidewalks are located on their property?  If not, then why should they be responsible for the cost of repairs to them?  These are hard economic times for many residents.  How much will these repairs cost?  Can the homeowners do the repairs themselves or do they have to have the usual $100.00 permit from the township and then hire a contractor to do the work?
Here is a novel idea...........
What is the goal of DDA boards?  To maintain and improve the infrastructure, "to correct and prevent deterioration in business districts and to encourage historic preservation".  Would sidewalks fall under the infrastructure category?  How is the DDA board funded?  With the tax dollars paid by the residents and businesses of Bridgeport Township.  In my utopian dream town, the DDA board would spend some of that tax payer money they already have and pay for the sidewalk repairs.  Seems to me a much better use of the money than spending $10,000.00 on flower pots and $33,000.00 on a snow removal machine.  The lack of sidewalks and the deterioration of the sidewalks is a problem in our township.  The latest trend for towns is to increase the "walkability" of the area; to make towns more walkable, bikeable and livable communities.  I can always dream can't I?

They discussed a little about the Special Assessments for Public Safety for the Police and Fire Departments.  These will be different than the millage that was proposed in the past.  These assessments will be a equal amount on each property owner that has a home or building on their property.  In the past proposed millage, farmers were going to get hit very hard with taxes, this proposed assessment will help to balance the tax burden out equally among all residents/land owners in the township.  It is my understanding that no money from special assessments gets diverted to the DDA board.  So if the voters approve these assessments the money will go for where it was intended, to the police and fire departments. 

The Township Board Meeting for August was moved from August 5th to August 6th due to the fact that the primary elections will be held on the 5th.
The public hearings for the sidewalk repair and the special assessments will be held at the August 6th meeting.
If the residents of this township would like to know more about these items then please attend the August meeting.  If you would like to voice your opinion on these matters, then please attend.  You only have 3 minutes to speak so make it count.