2006-02-11 / Top News

City Eyes Condo Sale

By Karen Gould

Setting a course to provide more housing for Mackinac Island’s public safety officers, City Council approved the sale of one of its Rowe House condominiums at its Wednesday, February 1, meeting, although subsequent discussion has put the matter back on the agenda for Council’s Wednesday, February 15 meeting.

On February 1, Council, on the recommendation of the Finance Committee, said it planned to solicit sealed bids for the condo and use the proceeds to remodel the old medical center building into apartments.

Council set a minimum bid of $350,000, although there now is speculation that the city may decide next week not to sell the property.

The condo is now used by Police Lieutenant Pete and Cindy Komblevitz.

Mackinac County Commissioner Joe Durm of St. Ignace, whose district includes Mackinac Island, attended the February 1 meeting to say he is considering making a proposal for a county-wide millage to protect senior citizen programs from state budget cuts. During the discussion, he learned that, while the county contributes $10,000 to the Community Action Agency for senior citizen programs, no funds are distributed to Mackinac Island. Mr. Durm told Islanders he would look into the matter.

Island senior citizens receive Meals on Snowmobiles, funded with private donations, while other county residents participate in the Meals on Wheels program.

Mr. Durm told Council he also would like to see another Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement (SANE) officer serving the Island this summer. An undercover officer was stationed on the Island last summer under SANE, which is a multi-county drug enforcement program.

Alderman Jason St. Onge told The Town Crier after the meeting: “It concerns me that sometimes our input, views, and concerns are left out of county decisions. Approximately 26 percent of county tax revenue comes from Mackinac Island. I get distressed when we only see our commissioner sporadically, at best,” Alderman Armand Porter agreed.

“I’ve been on the council since the first of May last year, and that’s the first I’ve seen a commissioner over here.”

Mr. Porter also noted that it would be beneficial if the Island had its own representative on the county commission.

Islanders learned they will pay more for cable television service and will receive four new cable channels from Charter Communications. A $4.19 increase to monthly bills for the programming begins in March. The basic cable rate of $7.60 per month will remain unchanged. The expanded rate will increase from $22.92 per month to $27.11 and the expanded basic lineup will rise from $30.52 to $34.71. The four new channels, a part of the expanded basic service, include The Learning Channel, The Golf Channel, Turner Classic Movies, and The Food Network.

In an ongoing conflict, Council received a letter from Elliot Cohen, an Island property owner, requesting that all future letters addressed to him come directly from the city and not from the Department of Public Works (DPW). Council placed the letter on file, but took no additional action.

The letter is the latest development in a dispute between Mr. Cohen and the Department of Public Works. The disagreement began last spring over responsibility for repair of a broken water line leading to Mr. Cohen’s property. Mr. Cohen and his wife, Rita Sue, own 46 acres on Mackinac, which is the largest single family land parcel on the Island.

“Further, I do not want any future correspondence from the DPW or its people, but only from City Council on the City of Mackinac Island letterhead,” wrote Mr. Cohen.

He also wrote, “The water line was working in the last 100 or so years up until spring of 2005, when it failed because of bad management and improper service to the water line.”

In September, the Cohens announced they were selling their Island property, in part or whole, and also were considering creating a 61-lot subdivision.

Council approved the purchase of four ice rescue suits for $250 each. The Mackinac Island Fire Department was offered the opportunity to purchase the suits at approximately half the cost by partnering with the State of Michigan. The protective suits are worn by emergency personnel when performing ice rescues.

Three firemen will attend training classes in Indiana at a cost to the city of $289.22. A grant from the Mackinac Island Community Foundation for $955.78 covered the bulk of the expense. The training will take place in April.

Council also agreed to renew a one-year lease for one dollar with the Mackinac Island State Park Commission for a lot near Surrey Hill on which Fire Station #2 is built.

Based on a contingency outlined at its Wednesday, January 4, meeting, Council was advised that Bear River Development, Inc. of Boyne Falls, which does contract work on Mackinac Island, was asked to cease operations until test results from the state are received. Council had approved a business license for the company in January, contingent on a company officer passing a state builders exam. Originally, the city expected test results by late January.

The city council next meets Wednesday, February 15, at 5 p.m. on the second floor of Community Hall.

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