The Owosso City Council met virtually once again via Zoom for the regular meeting on Monday, May 4. All council members were in attendance.
Highlighting that meeting, Owosso Main Street/DDA Director Josh Adams discussed some of the more interesting results from a recent Facebook survey. The survey was designed to compile information from consumers on the process of safely reopening small businesses. Over 1,600 responses were received showing that 42 percent of that total would immediately resume shopping in the downtown area once the state executive orders related to the COVID-19 crisis are lifted. Fourteen percent shared that they would wait one month and the rest submitted that they would wait longer. Several of the data points suggested a positive reopening. Adams shared he recognized a need to create a customer trust initiative to build consumer confidence.
Council member Janae Fear asked for an update on the census. City manager Nathan Henne admitted that COVID-19 had made the census effort far more complicated regarding coordinating meetings and schedules, but that the city response rate is currently exceeding the county response rate. The city does plan to mail out one more census notice. Fear encouraged residents to complete the census survey.
Shiawassee County Commissioner Marlene Webster offered an update on the county with efforts directed toward planning for a safe reopening. Webster also shared that the May meetings had been moved to the week of May 18, hoping that time would allow for an in-person meeting.
Tom Manke of Owosso Twp., questioned the council on the ongoing debate of reopening businesses verses continuing to quarantine. Owosso Mayor Chris Eveleth and Owosso City Attorney Scott Gould both maintained that the state executive orders in place, currently represent law, and the city would continue to follow them unless a court decided otherwise. Gould recommended the city hold off until after any litigation was decided upon.
The city moved to approve the consent agenda, which included approving the opening of the Downtown Owosso Farmers Market – now set for Saturday, May 16 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tracy Peltier, director of the farmers market, will be leading the reorganization of that event with consideration given to social distancing and safety protocols.