The air was electric at last night’s Saugatuck City Council meeting. History itself seemed to echo from the gavel as Mayor Pro Tem Bill Hess called the session to order at precisely 7 p.m.
He had 23 minutes 59 seconds to complete the business of the night and claim the laurels for leading the shortest city council meeting in recent memory.
The previous record holder — Barry Johnson, once mayor when he set the 24-minute record, now councilman — chatted before the meeting. “I have a lot of things to talk about,” he smiled.
The meeting itself was routine and the agenda thin, a normal occurrence for most municipalities this time of year:
• Approve the minutes of the previous meeting;
• Pay the bills (total $295,242.24, including $1,655 for a state-required sign at the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area);
• Mayor’s comments (“Thank you very much. Happy holidays,” was it from Hess);
• City manager’s comments (none);
• Guest speakers (none);
• Public comment (none from just two people in the audience — one newspaper reporter and the planning commission chairman);
• Unfinished business (none);
• New business (none);
• Consent agenda (none);
• Public comment (none, same two people in the audience, still nothing to say);
• Communications (accept copy of Saugatuck Township fire board minutes — four pages);
• Boards, commissions and committee reports (Councilman Mark Bekken’s update on the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority meeting; Hess’s update on the proposal before the planning commission for a new restaurant); and finally
• Council comments. ...
The chance for the record-holder to stretch out the meeting and save his title?
Johnson updated he council on the closing of the dune deal last week that transfers the property from the Land Conservancy of West Michigan to the city (“Amazing amount of coverage we’ve gotten on that,” said Councilman Jeff Spangler about the reports in newspapers, online, TV and radio). A brief discussion about the possibility of having the Allegan County Community Foundation oversee the natural area’s endowment.
Then the council chambers grew quiet. The only sound came from the “Village Office” sign creaking in the strong winds outside.
Johnson gallantly admitted defeat.
“A new record?” he said as Hess tapped the gavel.
Yep. 12 minutes.