Esky sets rules for monuments

ESCANABA — A proposed policy that got lost in the shuffle over the years regarding memorials and art pieces being placed on city property, was unanimously approved by Escanaba City Council during its regular meeting Thursday.

Requirements for placing memorials, monuments and public art projects on city property, including public parks, was originally presented in 2009 to council and referred to committees then brought up again in 2012, explained recently-hired City Manager Patrick Jordan, noting he learned about the lingering policy from Recreation Director Kim Peterson.

Peterson came across the proposed policy when a family wanted to donate a bench at Aronson Island in memory of a loved one. When Peterson looked up the required process for accepting the donation, she came across the policy that had not yet been approved.

Peterson told the Daily Press earlier Thursday that she reviewed the draft to simplify the process because department heads did not want to have to go to council for approval of every gift to the city before the gift could be accepted, such as monetary donations.

The policy mainly involves acceptance of donated memorials, monuments, and public art projects that must be in accordance with the city’s plans and must be approved by council before being placed within the city’s parks or public spaces.

The new policy addresses locations, maintenance, appropriateness, items’ aesthetic value to the community, and potential removal of donated items.

All memorials, monuments and artworks placed in parks or public spaces which are managed by the city will be under the unconditional control of the city, according to the new policy.

In other business Thursday, council agreed to pay $5,000 to end a pending litigation process involving several parties. The litigation involved a lawsuit the city was party to regarding a Brownfield (contamination cleanup) project which Escanaba asked the county to process for the city a few years ago.

Fleet Maintenance, the potential property buyer, later found the cleanup process too expensive to expand the business so the company backed out of the land deal and the Brownfield process after spending $33,531 from a $450,000 loan from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

When Fleet Maintenance was required to pay back the DEQ loan, the company filed a lawsuit against the county for the loan money spent on the project, claiming the county was negligent in administering the project.

The city, which held the county harmless for processing the Brownfield project, defended the lawsuit and filed a counter claim against Fleet Maintenance and filed additional claims against the two engineering firms which were paid the $33,531. Fleet Maintenance then filed complaints against the two firms which in turn sued Fleet Maintenance.

To prevent attorney costs from going any higher, the parties got together in the summer of 2016 to discuss resolving the issue. This past August, the city agreed to reduce its $33,531 counter claim against Fleet Maintenance by $5,000 which the city agreed to pay the DEQ if the agency would not forgive the $5,000 shortfall.

Jordan informed council on Thursday the DEQ had denied the city’s request. Council unanimously agreed to pay the county the $5,000 which in turn will reimburse the $5,000 to the DEQ.

Mayor Marc Tall commented the agreement was made in the city’s attempt to help the local business.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,