Comstock Park fountain

Comstock Park fountain to be replaced, but skipping bid process prompts objections

The nonfunctional fountain at Comstock Park, on the west edge of Adrian’s downtown, will be replaced soon. But several speakers at Monday night’s city commission meeting objected to the city skipping its normal bid process in awarding the $56,500 contract for the job. The commission voted 5-1 to award the contract to The Beaubien Companies to put a new water feature in the place of the current fountain. The money will come from the capital projects budget within the Fee Estate, which is a fund bequeathed to the city of Adrian by Harriet Kimball Fee for parks and beautification. City administrator Shane Horn said that he, Mayor Jim Berryman, and parks and engineering services director Todd Brown visited the Adrian College campus and looked at the fountain at the Adrian Tobias Center. Continue Reading

Pi Benio, vice president of the Lenawee Council for Visual Arts, shows one of the buildings the LCVA will lease from the city of Adrian on the former Adrian Training School campus.

Arts group plans to offer classes at former Adrian Training School site

The old Adrian Training School campus on the north side of town sits empty — 55 acres of quiet grounds and vacant buildings. Since the former juvenile detention facility was closed over six years ago, the city has struggled to find a new use for it — an effort made harder because the state requires it be used for a public purpose. Now, a local arts organization has a new vision for the site: a place where people of all ages can come to learn about art and exercise their creativity. The Adrian City Commission tonight gave its stamp of approval to leasing three of the buildings on the campus to the Lenawee Council for Visual Arts, which plans to offer classes starting this fall. Pi Benio, vice president of the LCVA, said the group will start with ceramics, then expand to other media such as woodworking, letterpress, sculpture and glass. Continue Reading

The site of a proposed Taco Bell on North Main Street.

Proposed Taco Bell snarled by state and federal red tape

City officials are growing frustrated with state and federal red tape that’s tying up plans for a new Taco Bell on the north side of Adrian. “We have run into some very interesting roadblocks that, when you are familiar with the property, don’t necessarily make sense,” city attorney Sarah Osburn said at Monday night’s city commission meeting. It all started because, in order to put an entrance onto North Main Street, developer Sundance Inc. needed to buy a small parcel of city-owned land in order to get the entrance far enough north to not cause problems with the intersection of North Main and Albert. The property the city is trying to sell is .27 acres of land adjacent to Island Park. When the city commissioned a title search — a normal part of selling a property — the title examiner discovered that the state of Michigan had a deed dating back to 1989 that entitled it to 70 percent of any mineral rights on the land. Continue Reading

Kiwanis Trail

Section of Kiwanis Trail that “will jar your fillings loose” will get repairs soon

A portion of the Kiwanis Trail that runs from Adrian to Tecumseh is slated to be repaired after the Adrian City Commission approved spending $51,600 from the Harriet Kimball Fee Estate to fix it up. There’s a bridge on the trail between Occidental and Gady, and the part of the trail that’s scheduled to be fixed starts at the bridge and runs about half of the way to Occidental. “I rode it a few weeks back and it will jar your fillings loose,” city administrator Shane Horn said. “It’s in pretty bad shape.” That’s not the only section that needs work, city officials said, but it’s as much as the Fee Estate can support at the moment. Continue Reading

Bohn Pool will once again be part of the city's budget this season.

City will help pay for Bohn Pool’s operation this summer

After the city of Adrian and the YMCA of Lenawee County merged their recreational programs and put them all under the YMCA’s administration, the Y found it was losing money as a result.  Now the city is committing to help the YMCA cover the costs of operating Bohn Pool this summer, in exchange for more control over the pool’s operations. “Historically, Bohn Pool is not a moneymaking venture by any means,” city administrator Shane Horn said at tonight’s city commission meeting. During a work session a few months ago, city commissioners agreed that they did not want to risk seeing the pool close, and felt that taking back some responsibility for the pool would be reasonable. Under the new agreement, the city will cover any financial shortfall the pool incurs this year. The city will also be responsible for up to 10 hours per week of wages for the YMCA associate director, who is responsible for the pool, during pool season, and a city seasonal employee, John Knauss, will take a more active leadership role at the pool. Continue Reading

The city is seeking state funds to demolish the former Jefferson School.

City seeks state funds to tear down Jefferson School

With a little luck, the broken windows and graffiti-covered bricks of the old Jefferson School could soon be an eyesore no longer. The city of Adrian is asking the state for grant money to demolish the abandoned school building, which sits between Center and French streets just north of Beecher. Several months ago, the city received $375,000 from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to tear down blighted residential properties. “One of our frustrations was that the funds were all for residential use,” economic development coordinator Chris Miller said, and thus could not be used for properties like Jefferson School. But less than two weeks ago, Miller said, the city became aware that the state would be making about $4.7 million available for the demolition and redevelopment of blighted commercial properties statewide. Continue Reading

The candidates for Adrian City Commission in the November election are Chuck Chase, Tom Faulhaber, Nicole Gestwite, Allen Heldt, Ray Lennard and Lad Strayer.

Meet the candidates for Adrian City Commission

Candidates for the Adrian City Commission turned in their petitions this week, and one thing is basically certain: there will be at least two new faces on the commission after the November election. Commissioners Julie Berryman Adams and Jerry Gallatin have both decided not to seek re-election to a second term, leaving Tom Faulhaber as the only incumbent in the race. Six people are running for three seats on the commission. All commission terms are four years long, and the mayor’s term is two years. As we reported previously, Kirk Valentine is challenging incumbent Jim Berryman for the office of mayor. Continue Reading

Mayor Jim Berryman, left, faces a challenge from Kirk Valentine in the November election.

Kirk Valentine to challenge Jim Berryman for Adrian mayor

Kirk Valentine, a local business owner and former city commissioner, is planning to challenge Mayor Jim Berryman in November for the city’s top elected office. Berryman and Valentine are the only people who have told the city clerk’s office they plan to run for mayor. Nomination petitions are due by April 21. Valentine said one reason he’s running is that he feels the city commission acted more transparently during his time in office, from 2005 to 2009, than it does now. “I don’t think there’s much open debate going on right now,” he said. Continue Reading

Mayor Jim Berryman speaks at a study session before Monday's city commission meeting.

Mayor: “I think we’re in agreement here that people in the city of Adrian want Bohn Pool to be open”

Bohn Pool was one of several topics of discussion at the Adrian City Commission’s pre-meeting study session Monday night. City administrator Shane Horn presented commissioners with a preliminary look at the city’s 2015-16 budget. Although he stressed that it was still very much in the early stages, it didn’t look good. Even with eliminating most capital expenses, dipping into the city’s information technology reserves, and cutting about $100,000 from the library budget, early estimates still show the city facing a deficit. (Although a proposal on the May 5 ballot would spin the library off into its own separate entity, independent from the city’s budget, the city commission will need to pass a budget based on things being the way they are now.)

If the city takes back some responsibility for the operation of Bohn Pool — a possibility that came up because the YMCA of Lenawee County took a financial hit from running the pool last year — that could increase the deficit even more. Continue Reading

City Chambers Building

Discussion of trash pickup, Bohn Pool on Adrian City Commission agenda

Trash services, Bohn Pool and the city budget will all be on the the Adrian City Commission’s agenda Monday. The commission will meet at 7 p.m., with a pre-meeting study session at 6 p.m. Both sessions are in the City Chambers Building, 159 E. Maumee St., and are open to the public. Trash pickup services were also a topic of discussion at the commission’s last meeting, since the city’s current, five-year contract with Stevens Disposal will expire on June 30. At the last meeting, city administrator Shane Horn reported that Stevens Disposal was willing to lock in the city’s current rate for five years in exchange for a five-year renewal of the contract. The contract contains a two-year renewal clause, but a five-year commitment would require a new contract, and the commission would either have to put the trash service out for competitive bids or agree to waive the normal bid process. Continue Reading