Crowds disappointed at the City Council meeting
“Leadership fails when the people believe their leaders are either incompetent or don’t care,” stated Ted Walters, 43 of Marysville, after the City Council of Port Huron voted in favor of SC4’s offer of the purchase of the McMorran Pavilion.
Many people, like Walters, were upset by the 5-2 decision by the city council in favor of SC4 during the meeting on Monday, Nov. 9. One of those people was David Fye, volunteer at the McMorran Pavilion from Port Huron Township, who was threatened to be escorted out of the meeting by Representative Ashford when he interrupted the discussion by the council.
Fye, who left of his own accord, had to say, “I’ve played at the McMorran since I was ten. My father and grandfather played there and my kids play there now. To sell something like that for just one dollar is just ridiculous.” When reminded of SC4’s other stipulation of a land trade with the city, Fye also said, “What’s more important, jobs or waterfront?”
While most of the speakers at the meeting had similar opinions as Fye and Walters, with 24 of the 27 people who chose to speak voicing against the sale to SC4, Representatives Ashford, Harris, Ruiz, Archibald and Mayor Repp voted in favor of the deal with SC4. These representatives carried a mainly positive attitude despite adversity from the people.
“We have to face this head on,” Ruiz said. He mentioned that from his experience as an educator he values education and the people he has taught over the years. “We have passionate, smart people that can figure it out,” he said in regards to the relocation of the local Minor Hockey Association and the Silver Sticks tournament.
Representative Ashford shared Ruiz’s optimism. “There is always hope for the city,” she said, defending her position and that of City Manager Freed. She pointed out that the McMorran Pavilion has been a deficit in need of repair for a long time. In defensive words of encouragement, she said, “However this vote goes, think about us as human beings. You can take that opportunity and make it.”
Representative Harris, however, didn’t share the attitudes of the other members that voted yes. “I’m here to represent you, not to have you drag out my son’s name and drag us both through the mud. And frankly, I’m pissed,” he said lividly.
This being in response to Brandon McNamee’s comment regarding to how Harris’ son is connected to the Glacier Point ice arena and how it is an alleged conflict of interest to the situation.
McNamee, an attorney who was mistakenly labeled as the legal representative for the MHA by Harris during the meeting, explained further after the meeting, “Issues like this would take down an available sheet of ice, and will improve Glacier Point’s financial situation. His son will benefit from it.” McNamee went on to explain that this was not a personal attack on Harris, but an exposure of information that the public has a right to know.
Walters also made a point to bring up Glacier Point. He stated that currently all the available ice sheets in the area have been booked and are full. Being a for profit arena, Glacier Point could raise the prices because the local hockey associations, even if they did combine, would have to book there.
With the location of Glacier Point being farther away from the center of Port Huron than the McMorran Pavilion, the general consensus of the speakers was that the business brought to the local hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses brought in by the Silver Sticks tournament would disappear with this new deal.
Pat Cruickshank, director of the Silver Sticks tournament, stated that the competition cannot stay in Port Huron if the McMorran Pavilion was sold.
City Manager Freed supported this statement said that keeping the Silver Sticks in the McMorran under management by SC4 was “just not feasible.”
Cruickshank, disappointed by the results of the city council vote, stated that it would not be the end of the competition. However, Silver Sticks would have to relocate to a different area with either Lapeer or Flint being current potential candidates.
Cruickshank’s disappointment and frustration was shared by the majority of attendants who left the meeting before it was adjourned. Scott Richard Warden, a volunteer at the McMorran, said, “I would first off like to thank the over 2000 people of Port Huron that approached me in support of the Minor Hockey Association.” Warden then vented his frustration, “Today’s city council vote defied the will of the people of Port Huron.”
Despite the frustration and the bleak outlook shared by his peers, Jim McPhee, president of the MHA, said, “It’s not over yet.”
The official agreement between the city and SC4 is still to be arranged. It may be brought up in SC4’s next Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, Nov. 12.