Residents heard, attorney gives answers at council meeting

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK — After walking away unhappy from a Feb. 1 town hall session, many residents had the chance to be heard at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

City Attorney Todd Flood presented members with answers to questions posed at the town hall meeting that they could not answer at the event. Those answers will be available at the City Clerk’s Office, and councilors said they intended to post them online.

Questions were raised Tuesday about an appraisal said that council members began earlier this month on the Studio Center property. As of Tuesday, the results had not come back.

Resident Bob Kudlow said the council did not seek an appraisal on the property before the project began because they were “swept up” by Unity Studios President Jimmy Lifton, who moved the movie studio and the Lifton Institute for Media Skills to Detroit in October after a year in the complex. In recent months, media outlets have reported that the property, for which the city paid nearly $25 million in 2008, was overvalued by as much as $4 million.

“It’s puzzling to me how a goofy guy in red suspenders can come in here and sweep up people and talk them into something,” Kudlow said. “It’s beyond me why we would buy something without getting an appraisal.”

Councilwoman Beverly Kelley said the council was “conned” by Lifton, but that she does not regret the decision to purchase the property.

“We made a decision,” Kelley said, “a decision I will not go back on, because I believe it will come to fruition.”

Many residents voiced outrage at comments made in the press by Councilman James Flynn after the town hall meeting, where he called some of the attendees “a handful of drama club members.”

Flynn stood by his comments, saying they were accurately quoted, and he did not retract them. He also pointed out in his closing comments that this year is an election year for the council.

Flynn also responded to accusations that he and other council members were not vocal enough at the town hall meeting. He apologized for not saying more at that meeting.

“I walked away from there thinking I could have participated more,” he said.

Councilman Francesco Tucci disagreed, saying lawyers involved with the project were present at the town hall meeting to answer questions council members could not.

“Our town hall meetings are the second and fourth Tuesday of every month,” Tucci said. “You can come here and talk to us.”

Councilman Kyle Tertzag said residents and the council need to work together to find a solution for the property. Mayor Gary Burtka encouraged residents to recommend the center as a location to any businesses looking for space.

“We can sit here and point fingers,” Tertzag said. “But the reality is, we need to find a way to make this work. Pointing fingers won’t make it work. Working together will make it work. ”