Muskegon business leader calling on city to do more to fix blight

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MUSKEGON, Mich. - The phrase "Muskegon is not a dumping ground" is gaining attention after a local businessman began calling out Muskegon city leaders demanding more blight clean up.

“This is potential, but this is abuse, and trust me, do you want credible wonderful developers to come to Muskegon?” Ted Fricano asked FOX 17 Wednesday, picking up rusted metal on the lot adjacent to his property. "Then make it not dangerous, make it inviting. This sends the signal that Muskegon is not a dumping ground."

Owner of Fricano Place and six West Michigan pizzerias, Ted Fricano spoke publicly about the issue of blighted lots adjacent to his business on the 1000 block of West Western. The video of his presentation to the Muskegon City Commission nearly two weeks ago gained more than 105,000 views on the video posted to Fricano's Muskegon Lake Facebook page.

"These are good, hardworking people," he told FOX 17 Wednesday. "The city deserves the cream of the crop, and city hall is letting everyone down."

Fricano said he's speaking on the behalf of the public because he's got such a large response from residents wanting a louder voice. Recently, a local woman created the petition Clean Up Our Waterfront/Muskegon on, directly in response to Fricano's message.

Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson told FOX 17 they are committed to revitalizing abandoned properties and blight, but residential areas come first. According to the budget, from 2015 and through 2017, the city is spending close to $3.5 million addressing blight and code enforcement: specifically, $1.15 million allotted for these blight expenses under "environmental services."

One example of some progress - the old Anaconda Wire Property on West Western is expected to be torn down by the end of the summer, according to Peterson.

“We agree that really citywide blight’s a top priority for the city of Muskegon," said Peterson.  “The reality is, where the people live, that’s the most important place for us to take care of blight. We understand Ted's plight, but we also understand the property owners' plight, and we're trying to find a happy medium."

Meanwhile, Fricano says he's demanding more action than letters he and residents continue to receive to cut their grass.

“This is the height of hypocrisy," said Fricano. "Something needs to change now.”

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  • Harry Brown

    Congratulations to Ted Fricano for his passionate calling out of City of Muskegon officials for turning a blind eye to the sickening blight in Muskegon. Take a drive along Lakeshore Drive from the beautiful Pere Marquette Park through the disgusting paper mill garbage pit to the dilapidated broken-windowed Watermark building across from the thriving, sparkling Fricano Place. According to Frank Peterson, residential neighborhoods are a priority, meaning sending letters to cut grass or pick up garbage? How about making the commercial property owners financially responsible for the buildings and land they own? Send letters with a deadline, a fine, prosecution if not adhered to, and seizure of the property. Why should the city contribute any part of their budget (i.e. the citizens of Muskegon) to cleaning up private property? Show some guts Muskegon officials and remove this blight now.