2013-07-04 / Front Page

City seeks grant funds

Façade improvements may be coming to downtown area

MANISTIQUE – The city will once again explore the possibility of façade grants for downtown businesses. Manistique City Council members approved an agreement with the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission to apply for the grants.

According to City Manager Sheila Aldrich, the grants are administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and assist stores with various upgrades to their storefronts. The city had attempted to use the program back in 2006 or 2007, she noted, but were unable to secure more than one bidder on the projects.

“I want to make sure, this time, it succeeds,” she said. “That we haven’t wasted our time.”

To assist the city with the 6-8 businesses which will be seeking façade funding, the city will be using the services of CUPPAD – an organization which has helped other U.P. communities, such as Escanaba, with the same application.

“One of the things that makes these applications much more pleasing when they go downstate (Lansing) is a very professional look,” she said. “The more professional your proposal is put together, the more grant that you get.”

The grants will either be a 25/75 percent or a 50/50 percent match, she added. CUPPAD will prepare the grant application, provide administrative services, complete an environmental review, work with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, perform payroll interviews, and handle reporting and reimbursement requests.

Aldrich explained that she had approached the Downtown Development Authority to split the cost of using CUPPAD – $9,850 – and they agreed,

The agreement was approved unanimously by city council members.

In other business, the city also heard an update on the DDA’s West Side Boat Launch project. According to Aldrich, the DDA had received a Michigan State Waterways Commission grant in 2009 to make upgrades to the boat launch and plans were put together by an engineering firm.

“In the meantime, we had the Manistique Papers situation (bankruptcy) come up, and the DDA asked the state to put it on hold,” she said.

Now, the officials from the state and the DDA have reconnected, and the DDA has decided to go ahead with the project, bonding there match of the grant along with the Manistique Marina project match.

“They did not want the grant to be lost,” she said. “They didn’t want it to go away, and, along with it, the opportunity to reconstruct the boat launch with the light and the repaving.”

The DDA’s match will be $230,000, Aldrich explained, and Coleman Engineering will now be taking over the project’s oversight.

“They might be making a few changes,” she said. “The state has a few remarks on it … they’ll converse back and forth with Coleman on those issues.”

Work on the launch will most likely take place next year, she added.

City council members also approved an ordinance which bans the drilling of private wells within city limits and approved a temporary outdoor event space for Wheaty’s Bar in Manistique. The bar will put up temporary fencing during the remaining summer months to create an outdoor space in which to provide alcohol and entertainment. The space will be put up during the weekend and taken down during the week. A permanent space is in the planning stages, according to Manistique Public Safety Director Ken Golat.

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