2007-08-04 / Top News

Police Chief Resigns; City Sets Sewer Moratorium

By Eric Fish

The Mackinac Island City Council, meeting Wednesday, August 1, accepted the resignation of Police Chief William Lenaghan and imposed a 180- day moratorium on tapping into the city's sewerage system, cutting in half a six-month plan proposed by the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Chief Lenaghan has led the Mackinac Island Police Department for five years and will take a position as a Public Safety Director at Leoni, between Jackson and Grass Lake. His employment here will end in mid-September.

Speaking for himself and on behalf of his wife, Lois, Chief Lenaghan wrote in his letter, "This move takes us closer to permanent retirement and the family obligations that have become more pressing as of late, requiring more and more of our focus and time."

He wrote that he has a great deal of pride in the advances the department took in the five years under his supervision. He said at the meeting that he appreciated the support he has received while here, and received a round of applause from Council and a dozen residents comprising the audience.

"We're sorry to see you go," Alderman Mike Hart said.

DPW Director Bruce Zimmerman presented a letter to council proposing a six-month moratorium on new sewer service, recommended by the Board of Public Works at a meeting Friday, July 20. The city is into a six-year rationing program imposed in June 2004 and the wastewater plant is operating at 85 percent of its capacity. The moratorium will give the city another chance to develop a plan for the future. Options on the table for the past three years have been to stop development after the wastewater treatment capacity is reached, impose tighter rationing to extend the capacity, or expand the treatment plant to accommodate growth and development.

"The city's choices," said city attorney Tom Evashevski, "are to expand whatever extent we want or to put the lid on it and say no more expansion," Mr. Evashevski said, referring to continued construction of Island homes, hotels, and businesses.

Alderman Frank Bloswick said he wants to continue Island growth and increase the sewer capacity to accommodate more people. Others argued in opposition.

"We are gifted to have this place, it is our duty to preserve it," said East Bluff cottager Susan Lenfestey.

Council agreed to the moratorium, but will review it after three months.

"We have a step back," said Mayor Margaret Doud said. "We have to take a look at it. We have to make a plan. We can't put blinders on and just go into tunnel vision here.

"We'll formulate a committee and we'll sit down and we'll try to make some recommendations. The DPW has asked us to do this. We can at least do it for 180 days, reassess it, and see where we are."

In other business, Council issued Grand Hotel two temporary motor vehicle permits to accommodate the CBS Early Show when it returns to Mackinac Island Thursday, August 23. CBS will film a live segment from the hotel's porch as part of the network's Great American Vacation series. The network will bring the Winnebago motor home it promoted in the series and a network satellite truck to broadcast the live feed, and while the city was at first hesitant to grant the motor vehicle permit for the travel home, it eventually did so.

"We have an opportunity for nationwide exposure at a time we need it the most," Grand Hotel President R. Daniel Musser III told Council.

"The spirit of the story isn't about driving a Winnebago on the Island," he said, "it's more about taking your summer vacation on Mackinac and getting to Mackinac."

Council directed City Clerk Karen Lennard to write a letter of support of the Mackinac Horsemen's Association plan to build a public stable on state park property near Harrisonville. The concept was approved by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission at its meeting Saturday, July 21.

In other news, Council ordered architectural plans for the old Mackinac Island Medical Center, which it wants to convert into employee housing.

Mrs. Lennard was directed to write letter of appreciation to Wolverine Fireworks, who provided the elaborate display on Mackinac Island Saturday, July 28, as an Island tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Mackinac Bridge and to make up for a dismal fireworks display July 4, when fog rolled in at the last minute.

Another note will be written to B&B Carpet Cleaning, which donated its cleaning of carpeting at the Stuart House. The city museum, it was reported, received more than $700 at a July 31 fundraiser.

A race permit was approved for St. Ignace Kiwanis Club's annual run to take place Saturday, September 8, in addition to a temporary motor vehicle permit to deliver portable toilets for the race to Mission Point Resort, from Friday, September 7 through Monday, September 10.

Council's next meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 15, on the second floor of Community Hall.

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