To the editor:
The Houghton Waterfront Redevelopment Citizen’s Group steering committee is pleased to unanimously endorse three candidates for the Houghton City Council race: Virginia “Jan” Cole, Joan Suits, and Brian Irizarry.
Over the course of the last year, the WRCG has sought to work with the City to develop a better path forward for the redevelopment of our downtown waterfront and our aging parking deck. Actions by our group have included providing examples of healthy public processes, co-developing a fact sheet with City management, consulting with other Michigan municipalities on their waterfront redevelopment experiences, and offering to help the City pay for top third-party urban design consultants to work with everyone involved in the current project, including the City’s developer.
Following these efforts, we submitted a ballot proposal which Houghton residents voted on in August. This proposal asked if voters felt the current project should be put on hold until a better public process was instituted that explored options besides selling our most valuable, highest-potential public land and much of our core downtown historic district to a single private developer. Houghton voters overwhelmingly supported this proposal, with 79% voting in favor.
Both before and after the landslide of support for WRCG’s ballot proposal in August, these candidates have all either helped the voice of Houghton residents be heard or have actively reached out to better understand our concerns with the City’s current waterfront redevelopment project. They recognize the need for a more open, meaningful public process that puts the voice of residents first, and seek to build a more collaborative approach to city governance.
Far from being anti-development, they have each made clear that their goal is to find responsible, equitable, and viable solutions for our aging parking deck as well as the numerous other public properties intended for redevelopment in coming years.
We encourage everyone to vote in the coming election and to support Virginia Cole, Joan Suits, and Brian Irizarry for Houghton City Council.