At last week’s meeting of the LaPrairie City Council, officials addressed some routine business matters before turning to the topic of the Active Living Center.
The Active Learning Center is a collaboration between the city of Grand Rapids, YMCA and Elder Circle. It is located at the YMCA and provides opportunities for education, recreation, and socialization that are primarily aimed at senior citizens. Mayor Lynn O’Brien said that the Center was seeking donations to run its operations.
Councilors weighed in on the topic, with mostly positive reviews. Vic Moen said that he served on the board of directors at the YMCA and for that reason he would not cast a vote. He did, however, say that he supported the YMCA and described the Active Living Center as a “wonderful community center.”
O’Brien asked if there were many LaPrairie that utilized the Center. Councilor Margie Ritter said she thought several residents who used the facility and asked for the opinion of former city councilor Steve Feyma who was in the audience.
Feyma responded that it was quite common to see LaPrairie residents at the YMCA, particularly at the Active Living Center. Feyma continued “If people said to you, we would like to have a senior center here, would you strive to do that for them?”
“Absolutely” said O’Brien.
Ritter added “I think this active living center is a blessing for our older residents.” Mayor O’Brien agreed and indicated she would be supportive of donating to the center if the city could remain in compliance with any rules governing charitable contributions.
Councilor Amy Thurm asked about the amount of funding that the center was seeking. Moen responded it was $1 per resident. Thurm then said that the amount was significantly higher than any other donation that the city makes. O’Brien, however, noted that it was the same amount that the city gives to the Historical Society.
Ritter then made a motion to donate $1 per resident to the Active Living Center, adding; “It serves a public purpose for our seniors.”
Prior to the vote, Mayor O’Brien asked for additional discussion.
“I’m not for it; I think it’s too much but clearly you all have very strong feelings about it and I’m not going to stand in the way of that” said Thurm. “It doesn’t affect me or my family and as selfish as that sounds it doesn’t affect me therefore I would rather see a portion of that money spent elsewhere.”
Thurm indicated she might support a donation of $1 per every resident over 50.
O’Brien responded; “I understand what you’re saying but we do have a substantial budget for our youth programs so we have a lot of money directed at our youth here so I don’t think they’re being left out of things.”
The mayor returned to the measure on the floor and asked for a vote. Ritter and O’Brien voted in the affirmative. Thurm and Moen abstained. Councilor Tony Donahue was absent. The measure, therefore, failed to pass.
In other business, the council:
• Authorized expending up to $500 per machine on three pieces of city-owned lawn care equipment.
• Appointed Steve Feyma to the Park & Recreation Committee.
• Agreed to purchase and install Skype technology for the purpose of interaction with the council from a remote location at a cost of $906.76.
• Agreed to drop a $6 monthly water charge at the Lakes Inn property.