FLINT TWP. — Township officials have decided to postpone a name-change survey until September.
Initially the township board had approved a survey of residents and businesses owners that was to have been conducted next week through the end of the month. Eric Bowe, a marketing specialist contracted to conduct the survey, presented that timeline and procedural details to the township board at its June 5 meeting. Bowe said the timeline was devised to be concluded before the July 4 holiday when participants might be too busy to participate.
Since then, township officials decided that it is best to wait until after the summer vacation season ends, according to an advisory from Township Clerk Kathy Funk.
“After the meeting last week, it was determined that with the summer season upon us, it would be much more effective to hold off on the survey regarding the possible name change until after Labor Day,” Funk said. The new timeline should be after the time when many residents take vacations and might miss the opportunity to participate in the online survey.
Notices about when to expect the survey to take place will be included on the next mailings of township sewer and water bills, Funk said. Also, closer to Labor Day, postcards will be mailed to residents and business owners notifying them on how to take the survey and when they can take part in it.
Notifications about the survey to be added to sewer/water bills will be included on the upcoming billing cycles.
The township board decided to conduct the survey to allow more input from residents and businesses owners, after initial plans to hold a voter referendum hit a glitch. Funk informed the board that county officials said it will not be allowed to place the question on a ballot.
Township and county attorneys are said to be working on clarification of the procedure required for the township to legally change its name. The township must present a request to the Genesee County Township Board of Commissioners which ultimately will determine if the township gets to change its name.
The recommendation to change the township’s name came from a Suggestion Committee made up of residents and business owners. Starting last September, that group of about 50 people, met for several months to discuss the merits of either converting the township to a city or changing its name.
A name-change has been proposed several times in past years but the latest effort was prompted in large part by business owners who said their trade was harmed by the contaminated water crisis in Flint. Several businesses posted noticed on entrance doors and road signs to reassure patrons that Flint Township water is safe because it is supplied by Genesee County through the Detroit water pipeline and not from the Flint River.
A majority of Suggestion Committee members voted in favor of a name change because it is believed that it will separate the Flint name from the township and also provide a fresh start for the township to market itself and promote economic growth.
If no further changes occur by September, the survey will ask township residents and businesses owners to voice opinions on keeping the township name or changing it to Carman Hills, Garland, Dyewood Heights, Genesee Hills, West Haven or Westwood Hills. Those names were among the top choices selected by the Suggestion Committee.