This is the second in a series of articles about East Lansing City Council members. ELi wanted to remind readers of the goals council members originally campaigned on, the challenges they see for East Lansing, and their goals for the future of the town.
George Brookover is reluctant to offer much analysis of his time on East Lansing City Council or to assess his performance.
“I don’t know” or “Others need to answer this question” and “I’d rather the taxpayers comment on this” are frequent refrains during our hour-long interview for ELi.
Brookover, who has served on the council since November 2021, is from East Lansing, the son of the man who served as mayor in the early 1970s. After leaving his hometown to earn degrees from Cornell and the University of Michigan, he returned in 1975, practicing law and raising a family here.
Despite periods of public service — Brookover spent time on the planning and community development commissions and about eight years on the East Lansing school board — Brookover said in a 2015 interview that he didn’t have the intention to run for city council.
“There has been a change,” he told me. “I worried about what was happening in the town of East Lansing.”
Some of these concerns relate to downtown development in recent years. Brookover frequently refers to the City’s Comprehensive Plan (also known as the Master Plan), a locally established guideline the city uses for rezoning and redevelopment.
“The planning commission has been consistent with the master plan,” he said. “But some of [the initiatives] are contrary. Multi-storey housing is, in my opinion, borderline. We are a multigenerational city. The so-called institution for the elderly [Newman Lofts] downtown was not accommodating to the elderly. Entrance and exit are ugly, parking ramp is poorly built. Even young people don’t feel good coming out of there. The lighting is not good. »
While reluctant to reflect on the council’s work, Brookover pointed to some progress, including tackling retiree debt and greater oversight of city resource management.
Brookover also pointed to the relationship with the university in East Lansing’s backyard, the good and the bad. When talking about the need to protect neighborhoods, he often refers to students at Michigan State University.
“The first rule of government is to keep people safe,” he said. “This includes the thoughtful integration of student rentals and landlords, so-called fraternities and sororities. Some people in this age group like to consume alcohol and this has caused damage.
“The tailgate elements have been enlarged,” he continued. “It’s not unusual for me to run down Harrison [Road] match days and [they’re] fall off the sidewalk because they are too drunk. They are not all students, but it is a matter of public safety. It’s an accident waiting.”
Despite this tension with MSU, he also encouraged city staff to build relationships with university experts. When Council was discussing allowing residents to keep goats and other livestock in their homes, Brookover, clearly against the idea, suggested leaning on the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources for insight. . He also suggested consulting MSU experts on financial and municipal matters.
And while others of his generation are considering retirement or vacation homes below the Mason Dixon line, Brookover, 72, has none of that.
“I have no desire to move,” he said. “I have my law firm, a cabin up north, and a small farm in Indiana. This is where I am.
Check out the first story in this series, featuring Councilor Dana Watson.