*** This just in. M-Live story about our presence at the meeting yesterday***
Our University reps were told that we were going to bring 100+ neighbors to the Regents meeting yesterday. They underestimated us and didn’t believe that we had the power to organize at that level. About 100 of our neighbors couldn’t be accommodated in the meeting room but they became an organic rally outside the room.
- We cheered and clapped when prompted via text messages from inside the room to people in the hallway.
- We descended on University Representatives when they were identified.
- We cheered the speakers on when they exited the meeting room.
- We stood outside in the hallway and waited 1 1/2 hours for the meeting to end.
- We made a difference.
Our three speakers, Peggy Hubbard, Dick Rigterink, Katherine Litow MD proudly represented us and ensured that our voices are continuing to be heard. Katherine reinforced that we understood Michigan’s values and this bus yard placement was not in line with them. She also talked about the potential impact on the health of our neighbors with the noise, light and pollution impacts.
Peggy painted vivid descriptions of how the bus yard would impact our quality of life and focused on the impact on the day care center across from the site. Dick called out the flaws in their planning process to get to this site selection and raised the issue of trust.
The media chose to focus on the $3M gift by UM regent Mark Bernstein and his wife, Rachel Bendit, for the diversity center (a worthy cause and story) but we made an impact. President Schlissel, Regent Bernstein and Regent Deitch, saw us as they walked out the front door. We got smiles, hand shakes and positive acknowledgements. Most of the other regents chose to leave by the back door but we made an impact on the decision makers, the Regents. These are the folks who have the power to rescind the approval of the current location. We will continue to have our conversations with the University representatives (Hank, Sue, Steve and Jim) and inject our concerns and ask our tough questions about the bus yard project (official University page link). However, they are not the final decision makers. We need to reach out to the Regents in a positive, productive way to ensure that we are continuing to be heard.
What are our next steps?
- Now: Continue to write the Regents. Thank them for listening to our speakers and let them know that 145+ neighbors were at the 4/21 meeting. Reinforce to them that we look forward to our continued engagement with them until the University has come to the decision to relocate the proposed bus yard. If you have photos, please share with them, or you can pull some from this folder.<firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>
- End of April: The University will be releasing studies and reports related to the Bus Yard on the project webpage. Once we have access to those reports, we will be working with our own experts to review the findings.
- Early May: The University reps will hold a meeting with neighborhood representatives to discuss those findings.
- May 19th: Regents meeting in Grand Rapids. We will need to identify speakers and organize a group to attend. We will ensure they can accommodate all of us for future meetings.