BELDING — In an effort to save on future city expenditures, Belding will soon be turning on the lights in the direction of energy efficiency.
Members of Belding City Council voted unanimously 5-0 Tuesday evening to accept a proposal for LED (light-emitting diode) lighting at both Belding City Hall and the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) building.
According to City Manager Meg Mullendore, two proposals were submitted, with the council accepting the recommendation to award the bid to G&D Electric of Greenville, which presented the city with a bid in the amount of $26,990.88.
A second bid was also received from Parker Arntz Heating and Plumbing of Greenville in the amount of $47,417.
According to the paperwork submitted by G&D Electric, the total cost for installation at city hall will be $15,460.59 while the cost at the DPW building will be $11,530.29.
Mullendore said the city had funds available within the city’s internal service fund.
“Some time ago we started talking about doing some upgrades what would actually provide a greater cost savings … and all around, just be bette,” she said.
According to estimates provided by Consumers Energy, at a rate of $3,932.19 per year, the savings at City Hall will repay the cost of installation and work in just under four years, while the work at the DPW building, at a rate of $4,556.16 in savings per year, will repay the cost of installation in just under two and a half years.
Mullendore estimates, using a cost benefit analysis over a period of 20 years with a 3 percent inflation reduction, that the city will save approximately $123,712 throughout the 20-year period, approximately four times what the city will have to pay in capital outlay for the project.
“It looks the 4.4 times what we’re spending in the capital outlay is what we’re going to get in return over the next two decades,” she said.
Councilman Mike Scheid said he has personally witnessed the benefits of switching from traditional lighting to LED lighting.
“I’ve got some garages that I’ve converted to LED lighting and it makes a world of difference,” he said. “In the work environment, it’s just a different type of light.”
A representative from Consumers energy said the lights will have a five-year warranty on both the fixtures and bulbs.
During public comment, Mark Hoople, owner of the Silk City Saloon restaurant in downtown Belding, requested that the city be more cooperative in the future with the “Boobs and Tubes” camping and river tubing event that occurred last weekend at the Double R Ranch in Otisco Township, south of Belding.
“What (organizers) were looking for was local help and local supervision to keep the rest of the people that were giving them a bad reputation off of the river,” he said. “The mood here was to have the other people not be able to come on the river, and they chose Belding to do that.”
Hoople said he has lost “thousands of dollars” at his business because the riders who participated will not return to Belding due to a short trip and not being able to launch from a site in downtown Belding.
“People are attracted here and spend money here, when you spend money here it attracts more business,” he said. “My question is, what is our plan here? Where do we go forward from here?”
In speaking with Colleen Green, the director of communications for Travel LLC which organizes the event, The Daily News was informed the initial plan was to launch and land on private property to avoid attracting non-registered riders for the event, which donates the proceeds toward breast cancer research.
There was no confirmation that the event was ever to be launched on city property.
The event was previously located in Newaygo County for 16 years before moving to Belding this year.
“We were not able to control the free-riding tubing enthusiast that did not register or connect with us in any way,” Green said.
“We wanted to be able to launch and land in a private area that we were able to make sure that all of our group is participating, all of them are registered, and abiding by all local ordinances.”
Councilman Jerry Lallo, who said he observed the security company hired for the event, said he witnessed a “peaceful” event over the weekend, and would like to see the event return despite some concerns.
“I’m not sure if that’s the kind of event we want here in the city,” he said. “When they launched, there was quite a bit of drinking, but all in all it was peaceful.”
Lallo said he would like to see event organizers work with the city to make it a community-wide event, as long as it directly in involved the charities included in the event.
During council comment, Lallo read a prepared statement in reference to community backlash city officials have received throughout the past several months.
After hearing there is a desire to see himself, as well as councilman Joe Feuerstein and Mayor Ron Gunderson, recalled from the council, he said he felt compelled to speak.
After describing a previously positive environment in the city, citing reasons for moving to Belding four years ago, Lallo said he does not believe the city and community is currently moving forward in a positive direction.
“The question we have to ask ourselves as political leaders, business leaders, and citizens — what are we doing to help in this process?” he read.
Lallo described the current atmosphere in the city between city officials and residents as “embarrassing.”
“I am ashamed of what I am seeing and hearing, this is not the reason I wanted to make my home here. Belding has so much to offer. When you talk to someone and tell them you live in Belding, you should be able to talk about the positives,” he said.
Lallo said he believes the element holding the city back is a negative attitude.
Lallo used an example posted by a city resident on social media, in which pictures of neglected gardening around city hall were shared.
Lallo said he agreed that work needed to be done to improve the gardening work, but said the manner in which the matter was discussed online was disrespectful toward the city.
“What I was appalled with the most were some of the personal comments that were made toward the city manager,” he said.
“You have every right to be concerned about the way our city looks and I applaud and encourage those concerns, but I urge you to be part of the solution and not the problem,” he said.
Lallo closed his comments asking again that political leaders, business leaders, community leaders, citizens and city hall “work together for the good of our city.”