Ask ELi: Sewers, Trails, Dogs, and Door-to-Door Salespeople

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A runner enjoys the Northern Tier Trail, a dog frolicking, and a sewer grate.

In today’s Ask ELi to Investigate Grab Bag, we address four of the most recent inquiries that we have received: everything from sewers, to the Northern Tier Trail, dogs, and even door-to-door peddlers. 

Since January 1, 2021, we have received over 155 inquiries for the ELi team to investigate. Do you have a question about life in East Lansing that you want answered? Submit it to us here!

“Glencairn neighborhood is enduring months of infrastructure “improvement” (that’s the City’s word for it). Why is the City [of East Lansing] not separating storm water from sewage in the course of this work? I gather then the flooding generally resulted from overloaded treatment center(s), yet there is no effort to ease the burden at the point of treatment by not treating storm water.”

We reached out to the City’s Communications Coordinator Mikell Frey to find out more, but ELi was told that “[t]his question will be addressed during a comprehensive virtual webinar the City plans to host in November on the City’s water and sewer infrastructure.”

According to Frey, everyone in the community is welcome to attend, and the City will release more information on the webinar once the date and time is set.

ELi will notify readers once those details are available. In the meantime, Nicole McPherson, the Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works, also held two “pop-up sessions” in Glencairn to speak with residents directly about construction issues.

Thursday, Oct. 21, Council member Lisa Babcock will host a “town hall meeting and listening session” where residents can speak with Babcock and a plumber she’s hiring from out of town to help inform residents about what they can do to protect themselves and their homes.

Those interested can attend in-person at the East Lansing Public Library from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. or via Zoom by following this link and entering meeting ID: 859 1359 8503

You can read more about Council’s debate on how to best investigate the issues of the City’s sewers here.

Where does the project to build a new access point to the Northern Tier Trail at the end of Colorado Street stand? What work has been completed? What work remains? What was the total cost of the project?

A reader wrote to ELi after seeing the project develop over the course of months. 

The project, as of Oct. 6, has cost “just under $190,000,” according to Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Wedny Wilmers Longpre. Council approved the project in November 2020.

Thus far, the bridge has been installed and backfilled, and the plan is to have the pathway paved this month. Supply issues have resulted in delaying landscaping work and the installation of signage until next spring, according to Wilmers Longpre.

How does the City handle dogs that attack people or other dogs: after one offense and after more than one? How many dog attacks occur in East Lansing in a year? Do these incidents go up as the population goes up when students are around?

We sent this question to Frey after a reader wrote in about witnessing a person and their dog getting attacked by another, unleashed dog. 

We looked into City ordinances about pets and only found that dogs must be leashed while on public property. Frey sent our questions to East Lansing Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez, who pointed out that the City code also stipulates, “that dogs cannot be kept in the front yard of a home unless attended by a person.”

As for when dog-related complaints peak, it correlates with the weather, not the presence of students. Wrote Gonzalez to ELi, “During the spring and summer months, officers are more likely to respond to these incidents than other times of the year simply because more people are outside walking their dogs or their pets are outside in the yard.”

We weren’t able to find out how many dog attacks occur each year, since, according to Gonzalez, reports for dog attacks and bites “come in under a variety of file classes (reporting codes) that depend on the circumstances of incidents.” ELi would need to file a FOIA request with ELPD “to separate out complaints involving deer, chickens, wildlife, etc.”

But Gonzalez was able to tell us what happens after ELPD responds to a call involving a dog attack or dog bite. After documenting the incident, ELPD sends the report to Ingham County Animal Control, which Gonzalez said “is the primary agency for handling these issues and any related enforcement.’

What should community members do if a door-to-door salesperson or other solicitor comes to their home?

A reader wrote in, expressing concern after seeing someone posing as a Consumers Energy representative and inquiring about billing information.

The action raised suspicion, and our reader called Consumers to see if they had any representatives out in East Lansing and if representatives asked about billing information. When Consumers responded in the negative, the reader contacted ELPD.

The reader asked if ELi could get the word out on how to best handle these situations, and we found a helpful resource page, published by the City of East Lansing. 

In East Lansing, solicitors and peddlers must have a permit. If someone comes to your door and claims to be representing a specific company, you should ask to see their permit. As of June 9, 2021, only two companies have the proper permit to peddle in East Lansing: Bradley Atchison/Farm Bureau Insurance and Aptive Environmental. 

Three organizations are allowed to go door-to-door to speak about issues important to them: Fund for the Public Interest, Environment Michigan, and Clean Water Action. 

If a peddler or solicitor does not have a permit, residents can refer them to the East Lansing City Clerk to apply for a permit and report unlicensed peddlers and solicitors to ELPD through its non-emergency line: (517) 351-4220 ext. 2. If your safety is a concern, please call 911.

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