Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Short and sweet: Saugatuck has new meeting record

Saugatuck City Hall.

The baton was passed. A new champion crowned. In short, it was time for a change.

Saugatuck’s King of the Short Meeting — a.k.a. Councilman Barry Johnson — graciously and quickly stepped aside for the new Queen of Conciseness Mayor Jane Verplank after a 16-minute meeting on Monday.

While mayor, Johnson jokingly boasted that he held the record for modern meeting brevity at about 20 minutes.

The good-natured competition did not detract from the issues at Monday’s meeting. The council paid the bills, approved the minutes, heard from Allegan County Commissioner Terry Burns, was updated on planning commission activities and work on a “McMansion” ordinance and discussed the financing of sewer and water improvements with the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority.

Johnson even tried tongue-in-cheek to extend the meeting by asking Verplank to read verbatim the minutes of tree board.

“Could we go through them line by line?” he asked with a smile.

She did not, but reminded people to water their trees, especially those in the city rights-of-way, due to the continuing drought conditions. Some trees might not weather the lack of rain and could be expensive to remove and replace.

There was another light-hearted first for the council as well on Monday: City Manager Kirk Harrier, known for his trademark dark suit, dark tie and white shirt ensemble, attended the meeting without the dark suit coat. His sleeves were even rolled up, a nod to the 90-degree heat outside and the frugal use of air conditioning in city hall.

The famously casual council members — many who wear flip flops, shorts and T-shirts to meetings — couldn’t help but acknowledge the unusual event, though, when Harrier suggested he go downstairs to get his coat, the council let his casual attire slide for the evening.

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