2009-02-14 / Top News

Island State Park Commission Approves Annex Road Repair Project

By Ryan Schlehuber

As soon as funding is secured by the City of Mackinac Island, a repaving and widening project for part of Annex Road will begin, now that the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, at its meeting in East Lansing Wednesday, January 14, supported the city's efforts to improve at least 500 feet of the road.

The Commission said it would allow the city the use of state property to widen the cityowned road, but suggested that widening the 12-foot-wide road be done only in strategic areas so as to preserve its appeal.

"The commissioners' only concern with the project was altering the street," said Phil Porter, director of Mackinac State Historic Parks. "They didn't want to see the look and feel of the narrow, quaint, historic street ruined."

Annex Road begins at Four Corners intersection by Carriage Tours barns and extends past Stonecliffe Road and the Mackinac Island Airport, ending at British Landing Road.

The city and commission will seek to widen the road in places where it naturally opens up, where there aren't as many trees to remove, to add passing areas for carriages, said Mr. Porter.

The entire road is in need of repaving, according to City Engineer Dennis Dombroski, however, how much federal funding the city can secure will determine how much of the road will be repaired.

Many sections of the road collect pools of water and the sides of the roads are being eroded by carriages and bicycles going off the edges to avoid ruts and holes in the road, Mr. Dombroski said at previous city committee meetings. He suggested widening the road up to 16 feet to allow carriages and drays to pass slowly.

Also at their meeting, commissioners approved an updated the airport layout plan so that park staff can work with URS Engineers and the Bureau of Aeronautics on a plan to be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for approval.

The FAA-required plan is to move the landing strip further away from the fence line on the west side by 65 feet to comply with FAA regulations, remove sink holes, remove a hump in the middle of the landing strip, and repave the runway.

The cost to make the corrections to the airport is approximately $5 million, but "that figure seems to be floating up and down almost monthly, mostly because of the cost of fuel going up and down," said Mr. Porter.

A tour company called Haunts of Mackinac was given permission to conduct scripted walking tours through Marquette Park during the summer.

The Commission renewed its permit for the Village of Mackinaw City to continue Alexander Henry Park and for a historical pathway for public interpretation in Mackinaw City until December 31, 2010.

Grand Hotel was approved for a one-year Fort Mackinac Tea Room concession agreement with expiring December 19, 2009.

A lease for the lot adjacent to Silver Birches Resort was transferred to Frederick H. and Frances Holt of Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Frederick G. and Kathryn Holt of Atlanta, Michigan, for the remaining term of the lease, which expires July 19, 2014.

The 2009 terms and conditions for licensing for passenger carriages and saddle horses were revised at the request of Gough- Brodeur Stables. Maximum rate was raised from $54 to $60 per hour for drive-yourself two-passenger carriages, from $66 to $72 per hour for a four-passenger carriage, and from $78 to $84 per hour for a six-passenger carriage. Saddle horse rental was raised from $35 to $38 per hour.

The Commission recognized the retirement of History, Arts, and Libraries (HAL) Director William Anderson, who has held the position since the department was founded in 2001. The Commission and Mackinac State Historic Parks serve under this state department.

HAL Deputy Director Mark Hoffman, serving as interim director, was introduced to the Commission at the meeting.

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