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East Express | June 4, 2020




PUBLIC SAFETY 

PUBLIC SAFETY’S COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY 
Chief Mark Herald always welcomes discussions with residents and community members, especially those regarding racial injustice and police brutality. These discussions are important steps to building trust and strengthening relationships. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach him by calling the department at 616.949.7010 to continue the conversation. 

PROTESTS IN EGR 
On Wednesday, June 3, Peaceful protestors walked up Wealthy Street into East Grand Rapids from downtown Grand Rapids. The group and Public Safety worked together and the group then headed back downtown. 

On Friday, June 5, a youth protest organized by high school students will take place in East Grand Rapids in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The march will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. beginning in the Middle School parking lot. The group will walk to John Collins Park and hold a program, which includes a number of speakers. The group will then return to the Middle School parking lot. 

Public Safety has been in contact with the protest organizers, and both entities are working together to hold a peaceful protest. We support the First Amendment rights of those assembling. EGR Public Safety is committed to keeping all those involved and the entire community safe. 

The group’s leaders have requested that all those who join the march wear a mask and practice physical distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19. 

Please note that Lakeside Drive and Wealthy Street will be affected throughout the afternoon. 

If you have any questions, you can reach Chief Mark Herald by calling the department at 616.949.7010.  Follow us on Facebook and visit eastgr.org for updates. 

A NOTE FROM MAYOR FAVALE 

East Grand Rapids residents and community members,

After recent events across the country and their strong responses, including this weekend’s unrest in our neighboring city of Grand Rapids, I would like to address a few important points.

I have spent much time reflecting not only on the unlawful death of George Floyd but also the innumerable incidents like it. I support those who participated in the peaceful protest on Saturday — our freedom to voice ourselves is essential and foundational to our country’s rights and values. I stand with those who continue to express their pain, anger and frustration by doing so peacefully. I believe this form of expression can truly influence change.

While I do not condone the destruction that has unfortunately followed protests across the nation, we cannot allow these actions to distract from the larger issue and the desperate pleas of those suffering as a result of the daily persecutions brought by racial injustice.

East Grand Rapids is a privileged community. Not only do most of us have easy access to basic necessities, but we are often able to lead very comfortable lives and have the resources needed to help this movement readily available. Because of this, I am counting on our residents to do their part.

I urge you all to continue educating yourselves on this topic, use our resources, have conversations with your families beyond what your children read in their textbooks about the Civil Rights Movement and work toward unity — not just today, while this topic remains in our headlines, but every day. Starting at home and leading by example makes all the difference.

Please know our Public Safety Department is open and willing to have conversations with any of you on this topic. Our officers are dedicated to strengthening relationships and building trust with our residents and community members and I am proud of the strides they have made.

Due to COVID-19, our last Public Safety Community Engagement Session was canceled. When we are able to resume these sessions safely, I will work with Chief Mark Herald to address the topic of racism and police brutality so we can all have these important discussions and work on improving our community.

There is much work to be done yet. I am hopeful that just as we have been so willing to clean up the smashed windows and vandalized buildings of Grand Rapids, we are ready to clean up the brokenness of our world.

I find that similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one is left untouched and everyone has their part to play to rid the world of this even more terrible disease.

Mayor Katie Favale



CITY MANAGER’S OFFICE & FINANCE

City Hall

REOPENING CITY HALL

In accordance with the MI Safe Start Plan and Executive Order 2020-110, City facilities will be open for regular business hours starting Monday, June 8. Access to facilities will be limited to lobby areas for service at front counters. The City encourages the continued use of the 24/7 drop box for payments and to utilize online payment options as well as our online service request option.


4TH OF JULY UPDATE

Due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and in accordance with Gov. Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan, the City unfortunately will not be able to host its traditional 4th of July Celebration this year.

Please know this decision was not made lightly. While we are all longing to return to our normal lives, keeping all participants and those planning for this day safe and healthy remains a top priority for the City. Stay tuned, however, as our team members are looking at alternative ways to honor our nation’s birthday safely. Visit eastgr.org for more information and updated plans.

For the latest COVID-19 information affecting City operations, closures and cancelations, visit eastgr.org/covid.  


AUGUST & NOVEMBER ELECTIONS UPDATE


Registered voters should receive an application for an absentee ballot from either the EGR City Clerk’s Office or from the Secretary of State for the August and November 2020 elections. Some voters may receive more than one form due to the Secretary of State’s mailing. You only need to return one form to receive a ballot. If you have not received an application form and wish to receive an absentee ballot for the August election, please visit our Absentee Voting webpage

Absentee ballots for the August election will be available in late June.

Absentee voting has been in place for many years and is a safe and secure way of submitting your votes. It allows you to receive your ballot early and take time to research candidates and proposals prior to election day and to avoid lines at the polling place. If you have questions about absentee ballots, the voting process or your voter registration, please contact our offices at 616.949.2110 or contact City Clerk Karen Brower at kbrower@eastgr.org.

If you receive election-related mail for someone that no longer lives at your address, please let us know with a phone call to 616.949.2110, or by writing on the envelope and dropping it by city hall (there’s a 24/7 city dropbox in the vestibule at the main entrance) so that we can update our records.


CITY COMMISSION MEETINGS


As allowed by Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-75, the Monday, June 1 City Commission meeting was held virtually via Google Meetings. At this meeting, four agenda items were approved including changes to the Parks & Recreation and Library commissions and the addition of two mini traffic circles on Argentina at San Lucia and Pinecrest. You can watch the meeting on our YouTube Channel and view its agenda at eastgr.org/agendas.

Please note that although the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order has been lifted, the Monday, June 15 meeting will take place virtually to allow people to participate from home if they choose. We will share the Google Meetings link one hour prior to the meeting on our website and on Facebook. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow our Facebook page to be notified about meetings.
   

SUMMER PROPERTY TAXES

Summer property tax bills will be billed on July 1 and are due Aug. 14. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, for your safety and the safety of our employees, we encourage residents to pay property taxes in one of the following ways:
  • Dropbox: The City has a drop box located in the Community Center vestibule at 750 Lakeside Drive. 
  • Online: Online payments using a savings or checking account (EFT) will be free for the 2020 property tax cycle. Credit and debit card payments may be made online but will still have a 2.75% convenience fee added at the time of the transaction.
  • Mail: Payments must be received on or before the due date. Postmarks are not accepted. If you desire a receipt, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope along with both portions of the tax bill or supply an email address on the tax bill stub for an electronic receipt.


PARKS & RECREATION

PUBLIC RESTROOMS

EGR public restrooms have been reopened to the public. Note that these facilities are cleaned once a day and each individual is responsible for using them safely. We ask the community to help us keep these restrooms clean as while the Stay Home order has been lifted, COVID-19 has not been eradicated.

playground

PLAYGROUNDS

Following the direction of the Kent County Health Department, East Grand Rapids playgrounds have been officially reopened to the public. Please note, however, that our playgrounds and recreational facilities are NOT sanitized. We ask all those who make use of the playgrounds and facilities to:
  • Stay 6 feet away from others 
  • Cover your mouth & nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash or sanitize hands often for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands 
  • Avoid sharing food, water bottles, utensils or cups 
  • Stay home if you have flu like symptoms, shortness of breath or are otherwise unwell



PUBLIC WORKS

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

Construction is underway for the season. Visit our construction webpage for weekly updates on all construction projects.

The State of Michigan has determined that certain infrastructure projects are permitted within the Executive Order. If any changes are required, the City will adhere to them.  


STORM INFORMATION

When the power goes out, residents’ safety is the City’s number one priority. During these periods, Consumers Energy (800.477.5050) works to investigate and address the situation to get power restored as quickly as possible.

Read our Power Outage Information news article to learn how to prepare for inclement weather, what to do during a power outage as well as contact information and safety tips.  


FENCES

If you are planning maintenance, replacement or constructing a fence, you may need a fence permit. Visit our website to view fence ordinance regulations as well as the free permit application


TALL GRASS REMINDER


As a reminder, the Property Maintenance Code adopted by the City allows for a maximum height limit of grass at five inches.


COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

Please note that according to EGR City Code, Commercial vehicles cannot be located on any property within a residential zone, unless parked or stored within a completely enclosed garage or building. This will not prevent the temporary location of any such vehicle on property while engaged in a delivery, pickup or service run to the property where located.


YARD SIGNS

With the presidential election less than six months away, we ask that you please remember that any sign must be posted in your yard and behind the sidewalk. City ordinance prohibits any type of sign in the public right-of-way area in front of the sidewalk. This includes political signs, remodeling contractors, event advertisements, etc.
 
Gaslight Village

GASLIGHT VILLAGE REOPENING

On June 1 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order. As of today, June 4, you can shop Gaslight Village without an appointment and on Monday, June 8, restaurants can reopen for dine-in service at 50% capacity.

While we are excited to begin transitioning back into normal life, we ask that you continue to wear a mask and practice physical distancing as you frequent the business district. Please note that each business is required to limit the number of people, so we appreciate your patience as we work together on this.

Thank you to all who have supported and continue to support our local businesses! Please visit individual social media pages and websites for updated hours and the latest offerings.  



EGR SCHOOLS FOUNDATION

"ONE EAST” BRINGING OUR COMMUNITY TOGETHER TO SUPPORT OUR SCHOOLS

Because of COVID-19, our schools are facing an extraordinary budget crisis. More than 60% of school funding comes from state sales and income taxes, not our local property taxes. Projections show reduced state revenue because of COVID-19 may create school finance shortfalls of $944 per student — more than double those during the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

An unprecedented crisis demands an unprecedented response. The East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation is organizing One East, a community-wide, coordinated fundraising effort so every dollar raised by school entities this summer supports programs in our district that are in danger of being cut. One East is bringing together organizations, students and families at all our schools to protect the East Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Tradition of Excellence.

Look for more information about One East later this month. Or, to make a donation right now, visit the Foundation’s website at egrsf.org.



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