Ask ELi: A Stolen Statue, Two Development Questions, and Problems with Verizon Cell Coverage

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Courtesy of the City of East Lansing.

This statue was stolen from the Softball Complex.

The ELi team loves to get your questions answered! Today we bring you three sets of recent reader questions and the answers.

“What happened to the little soft ball player statue at the softball complex?”

It was stolen. According to Mikell Frey, communications director for the City of East Lansing, staff discovered it was missing on Dec. 1.

“The statue appeared to be cut off at the base/feet of the statue,” Frey tells ELi. “A police report was filed and the police have been investigating.”

A photo of the statue is shown above. Have information about the theft? If so, please contact ELPD Det. Sgt. Adam Park at (517) 319-6834. 

“What is the status of the new, mini cell phone towers that were installed in Bailey? Are they active/working yet? Just curious because we live in Brookfield and get terrible cell phone coverage, and I was hoping that the new mini towers might help out.  If they are active/working, they haven’t helped out at all here. I’m trying to figure out if there is a cell phone solution for us… we’ve been without internet (MetroNet) for three days, and our cell phones (Verizon is our carrier) are worthless as back-up with the lack of coverage here. Thanks very much, as always!”

We need to note that this question came in before the recent big Comcast outage, so it cannot be the case that the reader’s poor reception was caused by Comcast customers using Verizon cellphones to create lots of data-sucking hotspots. We also asked the reader to turn his phone on and off to see if that helped “find” new towers, like the mini-towers installed in Bailey. He had already done that, with no improvement.

Contributed by an ELi Reader.

A cell tower in East Lansing.

So, ELi reached out to Verizon and heard back from Communications Manager Chris Serico. The bottom line is that, so far as Verizon is concerned, everything is working properly…and better service should be coming in the near future.

Wrote Serico, “Verizon continues to build, upgrade and strengthen our wireless network in East Lansing and beyond. I’ve checked with our network engineers and they confirmed to me our network is running as designed. They let me know we’re continuing to enhance performance in this area, with additional plans to expand our network to boost our capacity and coverage.”

“In addition,” Serico’s response continued, “our new site on North Hagadorn Road and East Grand River Road will provide 4G LTE and 5G Nationwide services that will improve both coverage and capacity. If customers have specific concerns about their own experience they can always contact us at 1-800-VERIZON and our team can look closer at their accounts.”

“Here are a couple to add to your ‘What’s going on’ list [of development projects around East Lansing]: (1) What’s going on with the now vacant land at 1200 W. Michigan, NW corner of Michigan and Cowley? The deteriorating building there was razed earlier in the summer. And (2) What’s going on with the former Sawyer Pontiac space at 1415 W. Michigan Ave.? Much landscaping [is] being done (a big improvement) and [there] appears to be some remodeling at the remaining building. I believe this was one of the designated dispensary sites for E. Lansing. Thanks for all of your good reporting.”

ELi reported in August that the building at 1200 W. Michigan Ave. was razed because the owners “recognized that the building needed to come down.” At the time, East Lansing Planning and Zoning Administrator Peter Menser told ELi, “I can confirm we haven’t seen anything regarding a development proposal for that property.”

We checked back in with Menser when this new reader question came in, and the status is still the same. Read more about that property here.

As for the property at the former Sawyer Pontiac dealership, just east of the new University Edge apartments, the reader is correct that City Council had approved a Special Use Permit (SUP) that site for a medical marijuana dispensary. That was back in March, 2019.

Menser tells us that an extension of the SUP approval by the Planning Commission (which is typically granted on an applicant’s request) pushed the approval expiration to March 26, 2021.

Menser explains, “The City’s ordinance requires that a project approved via SUP be under construction before the expiration of one year, not that construction be completed. The applicant started the project with the demolition of the principal building on the site, which concluded in August 2020. They also applied for an interior remodel permit for the remaining building on the site prior to the expiration of the SUP in February 2021.”

The developer and Menser met in November, and he told ELi, “I understand they do intend to move forward with the medical provisioning center and will be applying for an adult use marihuana SUP to supplement the medical approval.”

That would have to be approved by the City Council after a review process including the Planning Commission.

ELi has answered approximately 200 reader questions this year. Make sure we can do that in 2022!

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