Thursday, September 23, 2021

Councilwoman criticizes city meeting procedures

Romulus Councilwoman Virginia Williams expressed her frustration last week with the current procedures in place regarding the public comment portion of the council meeting agendas.

During the public comment section of the meeting, long-time city resident Sharon Walker asked about the status of the veterans' memorial.

“The court is done, the parking lot is done, what is happening with the memorial?” she said. She said she was unaware of any meetings about the memorial or plans to have it reinstalled near city hall. 

Williams responded that members of the committee tasked with preserving and reinstalling the monument have had meetings and it has been suggested that the monument be moved to the historic Bird House in the city. She added that the council members had voted to bring the memorial back to city hall, but she had seen engineering drawings suggesting it might be moved.

“Wouldn't they at least notify all the people who bought the bricks,” Walker asked.

Williams said that the plan was “not set in stone” and said there were two different drawings presented to the committee members. 

Williams then suggested that Mayor LeRoy Burcroff call DPW Director Bob McCraight to the podium to answer Walker's questions.

That suggestion prompted a response from Mayor Pro-Tem John Barden who noted that the answer to the resident's question would take place during the Unfinished Business portion of the agenda, as is the accepted procedure of all city meetings.

After a somewhat heated exchange with Williams repeating her request that McCraight answer the resident immediately and accusations that residents were being “stifled,” the meeting advanced into the Unfinished Business section of the agenda during which Burcroff asked McCraight to report on the status of the memorial.

McCraight said that there has been a suggestion from a resident to move the memorial to the Bird House and that the committee is looking at several ideas. He said the committee is talking with several groups, including representatives from the VFW looking for ideas. 

“We will have a public hearing before we make any decision,” he said.

Burcroff explained that the procedure of answering residents' questions during the specified section of the agenda was not an effort to “stifle” anyone, but is an accepted procedure to insure accurate information is provided to residents.

“This is a council meeting,” he said. “We can get the question to the right person” with the procedures in place. He added that staff members had been going through the names of those who had purchased bricks at the memorial to notify them of the status.

Councilwoman Kathy Abdo reiterated that there would be a public hearing on the plans for the veterans' memorial and that everyone should do whatever possible to help publicize that meeting when the date was established.