Residents Circulating Petition Ahead of Tuesday's Council Meeting
Looking to put Global question to November referendum
As of Sunday night the agenda for Tuesday night's council meeting did not in any way mention that the proposed purchase of the Global property would be brought up for discussion or advancement.
However, a group of citizens is circulating a petition that they hope to present to the council on Tuesday in an effort to dissuade them from moving town hall to the Route 9 facility.
The petition calls for a non-binding referendum of the residents of Howell with the question asking "Shall the Global Building be purchased for use as the Howell Township Municipal Building," according to a copy acquired by the Howell Patch.
Over the past few months the council has taken steps necessary to move forward with the purchase, including giving authorization to enter into negotiations with the owner and making $6.9 million available for the purchase of the building. That money would also include the funds needed to renovate the Global building and move the offices from their current facility to the new home.
Residents have brought up several objections to the purchase, including the price, the contention that the current building is as close as the town comes to having a hub, and the Global complex is larger than the township needs even with the consolidation of several government organizations.
Deputy Mayor William Gotto said he was aware of the petition but said he did not believe it would have any impact on his decision-making process going forward.
There have been several heated meetings with members of the public expressing their opinions on the possible move. At one of the first meetings in this recent round of decision-making, the council was presented with several options about what to do with town hall. One option was the Global building, others included ripping down the current building and putting up a new one, or renovating and adding to the almost century old landmark.
Had those options been put on the petition for the referendum then, Gotto said, residents might have had a better idea of what they were signing for or against. "Had they given people the choices and worded their petition differently, I absolutely would have taken that into consideration," he said.
While Councilwoman Pauline Smith was the lone vote against making the money available for the purchase, Gotto said he believed all the council members went into the process with an open mind as they received more information from various sources. That includes the public feedback and the information provided to them by the experts responsible for putting together reports on the various buildings.
Gotto said that even if the question did appear on the November ballot, a vote against the purchase would not mean that no action would be taken. "To me the fall-back position is very clearly laid out," he said. While he understood that residents did not support the purchase of the Global building, Gotto said at this point the council cannot simply leave things status quo.
The Global building purchase and relocation would reportedly be covered by money that was previously bonded for a previous purchase that fell through. Gotto and other members of the council have said on more than one occasion that they would not bond any more money for the Global purchase and would not go forward with it if that were the case.
Options other than the Global building would cost more than $12 million, according to one report presented to the council. That would have to be paid for at least in part by the taxpayers. "If the answer is no on the Global building then the answer is yes on the other thing," Gotto said.
There will be representatives of the citizen group taking signatures on the petition at The Grange on Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. The group circulating the petition hopes to show that there are many residents against the possible purchase and aims to give citizens of the township the chance to voice their opinion on the issue.