Riverside Church – located at 207 East Michigan Avenue in Three Rivers – has been chosen by the Three Rivers City Commission as the site for a central polling place for all four voting precincts in the city.
That was the end point of conversation Tuesday evening (September 1st) as commissioners selected Riverside Church on a 5-to-2 vote.
Mayor Allen Balog joined Commissioners Ken Baker, Elbert Foster, Carolyn McNary and Earl Stark in voting “yes.” “No” votes were cast by Commissioners Ken Cochran and Daryl Griffith.
At one point, it appeared the matter would be tabled – until Foster said, “Let’s try it for a year and see what happens and, if it don’t work anyway, try something different.” Foster’s sentiment in favor of giving Riverside Church a try turned into a motion supported by Baker.
Prior to the vote, Balog said, “Even after this vote, I would suggest the commission still does a walk-through” of the church building “in the very near future.” And he said, “We can always come back and undo this if we felt it was absolutely necessary. If it meets what we’re looking for in our walk-through, we don’t have to come back and re-hash this all over again.”
Balog asked City Manager Joe Bippus to arrange commissioner tours of Riverside Church and said, “I think our number one concern is accommodating a large turnout and I think they will have the answers.” Bippus agreed and said, “I’m sure that building is big enough to accommodate an election.”
Following a public hearing during their August 18th meeting, commissioners voted 4-to-3 to switch to a single polling place, but the location was left to be determined later. At the time, Bippus reported that Riverside Church had expressed interest in serving in that role.
City Clerk Lindsay Howes is looking toward implementing the new approach for conducting elections in May 2010.
The ability to save money by utilizing a single location for voting is a key driver behind the change, but other factors are also involved.
For additional insights about the Riverside Church building, click here to access a River Country Journal story posted in advance of a “grand opening” held in April of this year.
Editor’s Note: This story was expanded at 2:27 p.m. 9-2-09 to add the picture of Riverside Church and the link to the mid-April story about the “grand opening.”