Tuesday, October 20, 2020

EDITORIAL: An endorsement of Prop 2

At The State News, we are sick of the blighted Park District buildings that have lined the northwest corner of Abbot Road and Grand River Avenue for years.

We are sick of looking at them, we are sick of talking about them, and we know we are not alone with that viewpoint.

Now, with the upcoming ballot proposal on May 5, something can be done to finally rid our otherwise beautiful city of these eyesores.

The Proposal 2 charter amendment on the East Lansing ballot would change the voter approval requirement in the city charter. Currently, for the city to sell its own non-park land, a 60 percent supermajority is required from voters. The ballot proposal would change that requirement to a traditional 50 percent simple majority.

Last week, State News staffers met with East Lansing mayor Nathan Triplett to discuss the issue, and our editorial board sides with the mayor with his wish to pass this proposal. Whatever can be done to redevelop these currently useless pieces of property needs to be done.

The mayor said East Lansing is one of only three cities in Michigan that requires a supermajority to sell such land. All other cities simply require a 50 percent-plus-one majority.

If that were the case in East Lansing, reconstruction of the scourged area would already be underway. Fifty-seven percent of voters on the November ballot approved the city’s proposed sale of the land to DTN Management Co., but because of the current 60 percent voter approval requirement, the sale could not go through.

Changing this archaic provision in the city charter is a must. If 57 percent of residents are agreeing that something needs to be done, then a clear consensus has been reached.

As Triplett pointed out to The State News, the supermajority requirement only applies to non-park land in the city. Selling park land only requires a simple majority.

“It would be easier for the city to sell Patriarche Park than a vacant property,” Triplett said.

That simply does not make any sense. It is time for a change to the city charter.

That is why The State News endorses a “Yes” vote on the May 5 Proposal 2 ballot initiative.

We are not saying what the Park District should become, we are simply saying that it should become something other than dilapidated buildings that serve no purpose to the residents of this city.

It’s a no-brainer. Our only qualm with the proposal is that it should have been done years ago. Had this change to the city charter been submitted and passed before the vote in November, the 57 percent supporting the sale of the park district land would have already gotten their way.

It’s a cliche, but majority rules. And a majority of East Lansing residents are ready to see something — anything — happen to our crumbling Park District.

Beginning on May 5, it’s time to get that started.

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