Med­i­cal exec faces trial rul­ing

The Detroit News - - Metro - BY LEONARD N. FLEM­ING The Detroit News BY CANDICE WIL­LIAMS The Detroit News Matt Morin, res­i­dent

A Flint judge will de­cide on Fri­day whether state Med­i­cal Ex­ec­u­tive Eden Wells will head to trial on in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter and other crim­i­nal charges re­lated to the city’s wa­ter cri­sis.

The 10 a.m. hear­ing be­fore 67th Dis­trict Judge Wil­liam Craw­ford fol­lows 10 months of on-and-off tes­ti­mony in the case brought by out­go­ing Michi­gan At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bill Schuette’s spe­cial coun­sel Todd Flood.

Wells, ap­pointed by Gov. Rick Sny­der, has been charged with in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter re­lated to the death of John Sny­der, who pros­e­cu­tors say died of Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease in 2015 while the city was draw­ing its wa­ter from the Flint River.

Spe­cial pros­e­cu­tors ar­gued that Wells should be bound over for trial be­cause she “failed to pre­vent the dan­ger” of the Le­gion­naires’ out­break, which killed 12 and sick­ened at least 79 oth­ers in the Flint area.

Pros­e­cu­tors have linked the 2014-15 out­break to Flint lead­con­tam­i­nated wa­ter, while de­fense at­tor­neys have said many Le­gion­naires’ cases could be traced to wa­ter at a Flint hos­pi­tal. In ad­di­tion, the de­fense has ar­gued that Wells didn’t as­cend to her state po­si­tion un­til May 2015, well into the out­break.

If Craw­ford sends Wells to face trial, it would be the third case headed to crim­i­nal court.

In Au­gust, state Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Nick Lyon was bound over for trial. Dis­trict Judge David Gog­gins ruled Lyon was “cor­rupt” in his han­dling of the Flint area Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease out­break and will stand trial on felony charges in­clud­ing in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter.

In Jan­uary, for­mer Flint Emer­gency Man­ager Ger­ald Am­brose waived his pre­lim­i­nary exam and headed straight to trial. Am­brose, who ran the dayto-day op­er­a­tions of Flint for the first four months of 2015 af­ter be­ing ap­pointed by Sny­der, is charged with com­mit­ting false pre­tenses and con­spir­acy to com­mit false pre­tenses, 20-year felonies, as well as a charge of mis­con­duct in of­fice, a five-year felony, and a one-year mis­de­meanor count of will­ful ne­glect of duty.

Wells is also fac­ing charges of ly­ing to a spe­cial po­lice agent and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice re­gard­ing Le­gion­naires’.

Detroit — Of­fi­cials cel­e­brated Thurs­day with a cer­e­mo­nial sledge­ham­mer­ing as part of the start of de­mo­li­tion that will make way for the $108 mil­lion, mixed-in­come Lafayette West de­vel­op­ment in the city’s Lafayette Park.

“We’re about to em­bark on a jour­ney that has been quite ex­cit­ing,” said Amin Irv­ing, pres­i­dent and CEO of Gi­nosko De­vel­op­ment Co. dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the Ho­ra­tio Wil­liams Foun­da­tion, which is next door to the site be­tween In­ter­state 375 and Ri­vard.

The 5.2-acre site will fea­ture 374 res­i­den­tial units of both for-rent and for-sale lofts, flats, town­houses and high-rise units. The de­vel­op­ment will also in­clude re­tail.

The first step is to de­mol­ish the 151,000square-foot Shap­ero Hall, a for­mer Wayne State Univer­sity build­ing that has been va­cant for nearly 20 years. It once housed the univer­sity’s Col­lege of Phar­macy and Health Sci­ences.

A ground­break­ing is ex­pected in early 2019 and work is ex­pected to be com­plete by the end of 2020.

On Thurs­day, Irv­ing took a sledge­ham­mer to a brick wall on the site. Also join­ing in the short de­mo­li­tion ex­er­cise were city of­fi­cials and res­i­dents in­volved in the plan­ning process.

Matt Morin, a nearly 18-year res­i­dent of Lafayette Park, said he’ll be re­lieved when Shap­ero Hall is de­mol­ished. The build­ing has been empty since about a year af­ter he moved into the neigh­bor­hood. At one point, it was a win­dow­less eye­sore.

“When that’s gone and we have a nice, new build­ing with great ameni­ties, it’s only go­ing to help us from that stand­point,” Morin said. “More than any­thing, it’s go­ing to look so much bet­ter. It’s go­ing to be great.”

Shap­ero Hall moved off and on of the city’s de­mol­ish list as a pre­vi­ous owner, Den­nis Ke­falli­nos, had plans he later aban­doned to turn the build­ing into an apart­ment build­ing. Win­dows were in­stalled but ren­o­va­tions stopped.

Irv­ing said he drove by the aban­doned prop­erty for years as­sum­ing some­one had plans for the site. In late sum­mer of 2017, he found out that was not the case.

“You drive by long enough, and you say what’s re­ally go­ing on,” he said. “When I started dig­ging, I started to un­der­stand there re­ally is an op­por­tu­nity here.”

Irv­ing’s op­por­tu­nity re­sulted in Lafayette West. The de­vel­op­ment will have both mar­ket-rate and af­ford­able hous­ing.

“It’s a place for ev­ery­one,” said Arthur Jemi­son, Detroit’s chief of ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture.

Jemi­son said he met Irv­ing about four and a half years ago and likes his ap­proach to af­ford­able hous­ing.

Be­cause the de­vel­op­ment ex­ceeds $75 mil­lion, it is sub­ject to Detroit’s Com­mu­nity Ben­e­fits Or­di­nance. Sev­eral meet­ings were held with res­i­dents to de­velop a com­mu­nity ben­e­fits agree­ment.

Morin was a part of the neigh­bor­hood ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee. He said that de­vel­op­ers took into ac­count con­cerns of the resi- dents. They asked for no full street clo­sures, re­duced de­bris and con­struc­tion noise and for work to take place within lim­ited work hours.

“While we had dis­agree­ments, I think it was a col­lab­o­ra­tion process,” Morin said. “It’s ended with a pro­ject on a path that’s dif­fer­ent than when it started and it ac­knowl­edges the con­cerns of the neigh­bor­hood.”

Pho­tos by Max Or­tiz / The Detroit News

Amin Irv­ing, right, pres­i­dent and CEO of GDC, helps de­mol­ish a wall Thurs­day at the Lafayette West de­vel­op­ment Thurs­day. An artist’s ren­der­ing of a $108 mil­lion, 5.2-acre pro­ject planned in the Lafayette Park neigh­bor­hood named Lafayette West.“When that’s gone and we have a nice, new build­ing with great ameni­ties, it’s only go­ing to help us from thatstand­point.”Shap­ero Hall will be de­mol­ished.

The Detroit News

Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Eden Wells

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