New citizens, out in force
Concerned citizens listening to the City Manager present his proposed budget.
The operation of the ski program at Hickory Hills appears to be saved, for now. Each member of the City Commission expressed a strong interest in maintaining the investment for the coming fiscal year at last night’s study session.
It became clear during the discussion that the final budget to be approved by June 4th will not look exactly like the City Manager’s proposed budget (MW), but given the time-crunch for alternatives it will largely remain intact. An idea resurfaced to restructure the fire department (RE), but it isn’t clear that there is enough time this year for that to solve the gap to pass a balanced budget. Those discussions will continue over the next month.
Building off of the expressed commitment by the City Commissioners to Hickory Hills, interested parties like the Grand Traverse Ski Club will continue to be very active in finding agreeable solutions long-term. There has long been a desire to form a regional authority to manage the program for the City, but in order for that to happen there needs to be a commitment by the City to support the energy, time, and investment needed to begin giving shape to the idea. Last night might have been a catalyst for that. As well, some unsure but fairly easy suggestions were made last night to better spread the cost across the regional townships–about 50% of the users are not City residents, and there is interest among some for more regional contribution.
What is needed from the current City Commissioner is a number. What is the annual investment they are willing to put towards the recreational program? If $80-$90 thousand is too high, then what about $60,000? $50,000? If the public knew what level was acceptable to this commission, realistic alternatives to assist the City would be, if not easier, at least be tangible.
There is work to be done. From the crowd last night, those that are interested are certainly engaged and mobilized. If you’d like to join them, you can contact the Preserve Hickory Hills group through Facebook or contact the Grand Traverse Ski Club. You are also encouraged to continue to contact your City Commissioners and let them know what you are willing to contribute to the maintaining Hickory Hills.
As frequent user of the hill, Enrico Schaefer, said at the podium last night:
“It’s about keeping it open. We will help you, but that has to be the mandate. Let us help you keep Hickory Hills open.”
They’ve expressed an interest in preserving it, let’s show them how.