Letters to the Editor

Thanks to students

Dear Editor,
On behalf of my fellow veterans at the Clarkston American Legion Post 63, I would like to thank Clarkston High School Principal Gary Kaul, and commend a few of his students.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Rian Bannick, Clarkston Junior High, and his sister, Kathryn Bannick, Clarkston High School, asking if we were planning any events they would be able to help with, in support of our veterans. They chose to attend our Member of the Year awards dinner on April 22, and they brought some friends to help. Also from Clarkston High School were Natalie Harshman, Mackala Crocker, and Annalea Hanslits.
All of these students were punctual, polite and extremely hard working. Not only did they help us set up our hall, and serve dinner to over 100 veterans and their families, they also stayed after to help with the cleanup.
I was especially impressed with their genuine interest as they spoke with attendees, while serving them water, coffee, dessert, etc.
I would like to commend these young adults for the great example they set, and thank them for supporting our veterans.
Keith Marbutt, Commander
American Legion Post 63

Dangerous traffic

Dear Editor,
Once again, I cringe and fear for my own, and other’s, safety when exiting from I-75 onto Sashabaw Road heading towards Waterford. The disregard and aggression of motorists at this interchange and along the densely commercial stretch between Sashabaw and Maybee Roads are some of the rudest drivers anywhere. Are these people drunk? Seriously, to avoid this area at rush hour may add years to your life. And Why is it that I never see police cars in this area? It’s like an accident waiting to happen and a traffic situation that should not be ignored by the authorities.
The posted speed limit of 45 at Sashabaw and 75 needs to be changed to 35 mph and the presence of law enforcement is needed.
I was so stressed when arriving at my destination, I immediately googled “Oakland County aggressive driving at Sashabaw Road and I-75.” Don Rush’s column came up on the list (“Facebook to the rescue,” Aug. 5, 2015), so here I am, with my own rant.
You won’t find more ruthless, reckless, aggressive driving and lack of driver courtesy than in southeast Michigan. It’s worse than Boston where I’ve been living until recently. Having just moved back to Michigan from Bean town, I notice worse driving than in some major metropolitan areas.
The crazy driving in Boston is well known, but I felt safer there than I do on Michigan roads. When driving in Boston, and even New York, there is a sense of “us all being in it together” on the roadways. At least there, drivers will readily let you into the flow of traffic. Last minute, left turns on red and the occasional “jack rabbit” (a left turn across traffic the second the light changes) are known quantities in Boston. Sure they honk their horns in Boston, but it’s a single, polite-sounding toot, rather than a “lay on the horn” rage like you get in Michigan. The arrogance of many Michigan drivers is extreme and they drive like they own the road and others are obstacles.
Excessive speed, lack of regard for other drivers, not letting people into traffic, erratic ‘me first’ lane changing, and tailgating are epidemic, and not just on Sashabaw. Unfortunately, I see the same thing in Traverse City where I now live. Never mind that the area at Sashabaw and 75 is a hornets’ nest of commerce, poorly designed for the amount of traffic, with speed demons in their big-ass SUVs moving in and out of tight entrances to the businesses, hell bent for leather. Like, “get the hell out of my way or I will run you over.”
Don’t get me started on tailgating. Some of the tailgaters in southeast Michigan (and in Traverse City, too) are obnoxious. The tailgaters with halogen headlamps seem to be the most aggressive motorists.
I’ve had my say here, but I really don’t feel better. I can’t be the only person feeling frustrated and endangered. Perhaps this is just further evidence of the changing times of our narcissistic, ‘me first’ societies’ sense of entitlement. Your column about the maniacal teenage driver on Sashabaw resonates with me. Public shaming seems to me a good way to bring attention to this epidemic of rude and aggressive people behind the wheel.
Thank you!
Anne Kneller
Traverse City

Cityhall plan opposed

Dear Editor,
Five DPW building expansion questions for Clarkston city officials: What’s the rush? Why are you not listening? What do you not want the public to know? What’s really been going on behind the curtain? Why do you want to block the view of beautiful Depot Park and dwarf quaint City Hall with a looming, butt ugly, in my opinion, building addition?
Apparently to eliminate the current $5,688 annual storage rental cost by spending more than $500,000 with the three-bay DPW expansion. Nearly 100 times.
Additional City Hall renovations included in the bid package could raise the final costs to $700,000, my estimate, including financing.
Council has not acted on criticism of the industrial shape and exterior style from the 30’s.
Citizens, architects and professional design experts, critical of the exterior choice, have suggested more appealing alternatives. The mayor is unwilling to consider aesthetically pleasing alternatives in the bid package because it would slow down the expansion approval and construction process by “needing to go back to HDC.” Interestingly, no 2016 minutes of Historic District Commission meetings document any formal review, recommendation or approval regarding the DPW addition exterior.
Citizens continue to express their dissatisfaction with blocking the view of beautiful depot park and the stark appearance of the chosen exterior. Some have said “looks like the Clarkston lock-up,” others reference the windows “like putting lipstick on a….”
City officials have confirmed they have not considered what capital expenses the city will likely face in the 15 year period anticipated for financing.
Additionally, the 3 bay addition provides no direct benefit to Clarkston citizens or visitors-only providing a stark, unappealing visual barrier to the view of Depot Park.
Much has been going on without citizen awareness and transparency. In October council permitted questions regarding the DPW expansion and cost specifics. Since then the council and city manager have been mute when questions have been raised in the Public Comment portion of council meetings, explaining “we do not have to answer regarding an item not on the agenda.”
In public meetings where the planning commission and city council reviewed and approved the site plan, they refused to permit questions inside the DPW expansion footprint.
In the most recent council meeting Mayor Joe Luginski refused to permit DPW expansion questions during the discussion of the May 16 special meeting to review DPW expansion bids, saying the agenda item was the special meeting, not the DPW expansion.
Since the October and November council discussions of DPW building expansion, much has been going on behind the curtain. The city’s architect confirmed the expansion design program requirements were based on city information from 2011. So much for using current data.
Not all of the council members favored rushing forward with the bid package. Three council members, Al Avery, David Marsh, and Jason Kneisc, voted against proceeding with the bid package on April 11. They were out voted by Mayor Luginski and council members Sharron Catallo, Michael Sabol, and Eric Haven, 4-3.
Bids from contractors are due May 10. Council, on April 25, voted to hold a special one-topic meeting May 16, rather than wait until the regular council meeting of May 23. The rush was likely encouraged by city engineer Gary Tressel’s comments that contractors were becoming busier and building costs were increasing-even though contractors would be locked into their May 10 bids.
The council plans to review the bids on May 16 and vote to proceed, or not, they say, with awarding a contract. The accepted bid will not represent the total cost.
The base bid asks for unit costs in five areas, per cubic foot, ton, square foot, ton, and ton, anticipating the contractor will find issues during construction caused by soil conditions. These additional costs will need to be paid on top of the accepted bid in order to continue construction.
Council’s started down the slippery slope in November when the lowest cost two-bay proposal was eliminated.
A three-bay addition would permit one of the existing bays to be converted to enlarged city hall space. The additional bay and enlarged city hall created higher costs which caused the architect to choose the lower cost industrial exterior, butt ugly, in my judgement. Cost driven, he said.
Near the bottom of the slippery slope we have an additional “park view blocking” bay, with its not-aesthetically-pleasing exterior in order to have a larger city hall to accommodate a larger group of citizens at council meetings who attend because they may not trust the judgement of the current city manager and council.
Frustrated? Yes.
I have been prevented or limited from asking DPW expansion questions four times in the last month in public city meetings: council meeting 3/28 “you’ll get your answers next week,” 4/4 planning commission-”only footprint questions related to site approval,” 4/11council meeting-”only footprint questions related to site approval,” 4/25 council meeting- “only questions related to the special meeting for bid review, not the DPW expansion itself.”
I will not throw cooperation with Independence Township into the mix because of the emotional response in October, but I have heard no mention of cooperation with Oakland County even though Oakland County Road Commission is responsible for the majority of Clarkston roads.
Cooperation between units of government has yielded significant savings and could prevent the need for the DPW building expansion.
Please communicate with the City Manager, Mayor and council members regarding how you want your tax dollars spent.
Chet Pardee

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