2012-10-25 / Front Page

DDA marina project one step closer

City approves engineering portion of grant, ponders DDA extension to cover match

MANISTIQUE – The Downtown Development Authority is moving forward with plans to upgrade a portion of the marina next year. During Monday’s meeting of the Manistique City Council, members approved the engineering portion of the plan, though it is still unclear how the project will be funded.

According to City Manager Sheila Aldrich, the city accepted a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Commission earlier this year. The grant money would cover 50 percent of a marina project spanning several phases – including the approximately $1.6 million portion the DDA hopes to complete by summer 2013.

The project includes nearly 300 feet of broadside docking, a new marina service building, fueling system upgrades, as well as sanitary pump-out upgrades. The improvements would pave the way for a small-ship cruise line to visit the area, Aldrich explained.

“The city of Manistique is scheduled to be a port for the Yorktown, that’s a cruise ship that will be coming into Manistique two times next summer,” she said. “We would like to be ready to receive them with broadside docking.”

Recently, the DDA put out a request for proposals for the engineering portion of the project, and hired Coleman Engineering, explained Aldrich. Now, the DDA will have to send a copy of the engineering agreement to the state for approval before advancing with the project.

Kevin W. Trevillian, Coleman Engineering project manager, explained the total engineering cost for the project will be approximately $120,000.

“I understand the process for financing this project would be ongoing,” he said. “If it came to be where the city of Manistique chose not to … either extend the DDA or go on their own, you wouldn’t have any where near this contract expended at that time.”

Aldrich noted that the city would have a presentation of the number of years the DDA would need to pay off any loans they pursue to cover their portion of the project. If the loan payoff exceeds the life of the DDA, set to expire in 2018, the city could choose not to move forward with the project. Another option would be for the city to take on the 50 percent match and complete the project. Either way, she explained the city would need to approve the engineering agreement before moving forward.

The engineering portion, whether the project is ultimately taken on or not, will be the DDA’s responsibility, added Aldrich. Completing the engineering will be vital to the city to consider its next move, she said, especially since two major factors are placing urgency on the marina – the cruise line and deteriorating conditions.

“That’s (the cruise line) good for Manistique – that’s 138 people that are going to visit Manistique,” she said. “We’ve got some issues going on at the marina; we’ve got some real structural issues that really need to be addressed.”

Council members unanimously approved the engineering portion of the Waterways grant.

In other business, the city heard an update on the Manistique Senior Citizen Center under the “Public Comment” portion of the meeting. According to Sally Schuetter, member of the Manistique Senior Center Board, recent comments made by a Schoolcraft County Commissioner, about the center, needed clarification.

While some issues, like the transferring of the deed of the structure to the city, who owns the building and leases it to the center, need to be cleared up, Schuetter emphasized this was the extent of any troubles. She noted that, while the senior center holds approximately $70,000 in CDs (Certificate of Deposit), this money is earmarked for the center’s maintenance fund.

“That’s what we use to keep up the building for the city of Manistique, as they have requested,” she said.

Schuetter also explained that, though a millage to support the center was recently passed by Schoolcraft County voters, the funds were being withheld from them by county officials.

According to Aldrich, the city council is currently looking over the lease of the center, which expired in September. She noted that the senior center has two boards – the Senior Center Board and the Commission on Aging.

While the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners appoints Commission of Aging members, the city is unclear whether the council members should appoint Senior Center Board members. The matter is currently being investigated by Aldrich and city attorney, John Filoramo. Other than that, Aldrich said the city plays only a minimal role in the center’s board – contrary to recent statements.

“The lease does not indicate anywhere in it that the city has a role in overseeing their finances and either do those bylaws … other than they are to report with a finance report to us yearly,” she said. “It was disturbing to me to read in the paper that the city had not done its part, because I feel like the city of Manistique has and will continue to work with the seniors and their respective boards and we will fulfill our obligations once they’re defined by our city attorney.”

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