2013-08-23 / Top News

City Chooses Arnold Transit for Contract

By Stephanie Fortino

Arnold Transit Company was awarded a five-year winter ferry service contract Wednesday, August 21, by unanimous vote of the Mackinac Island City Council. The contract, for review by the Transportation Committee and approval by the council, is being drafted by city attorney Tom Evashevski.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry was the only other bidder for the service.

The city council also reappointed the Historic District Study Committee to confirm district boundaries, and Mayor Margaret Doud appointed Bradley McCallum to the Historic

District Commission to replace Brad Chambers, who resigned earlier this summer.

The winter contract vote by the city council followed another Transportation Committee meeting that was attended by fewer than 30 people, including representatives from all three ferry companies and city employees. An August 14 committee meeting soliciting citizen comment also drew few people.

Committee members Frank Bloswick, Kay Hoppenrath, and Jason St. Onge announced that, in addition to public opinions expressed at the two committee meetings, their own discussions with residents around town led them to believe a large majority of people favored Arnold Transit for the city-subsidized winter service contract.

Tom Pfeiffelsmann of Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, the only citizen to speak at Wednesday’s committee meeting, asked if the contract would have contingency provisions if equipment breaks down during the winter, similar to the Beaver Island ferry service, and committee members agreed that would be a good idea and will be something included in the contract that will be negotiated later.

The contract could also provide city contingencies in the event that the contracted server fails as a business or is taken over by a party not interested in providing winter service.

During the city council vote later, Councilwoman Hoppenrath explained she would vote for Arnold Line because of her known dependability of the company’s motor vessel, Huron.

Shepler’s suggested using their newly refurbished freighter Sacre Bleu for the winter service.

Mr. Evashevski predicted he would have the contract draft ready within a week and that the public will be able to comment on it.

Historic District Moratorium Resolutions

A resolution to clarify the construction moratorium enacted August 16 and to reestablish the Historic District Study Committee were adopted by the city council after being offered by attorney Gary Rentrop, who is representing the Historic District Commission (HDC).

The moratorium enacted last week suspended all pending work in the two downtown historic districts while their boundaries are clarified in the city’s ordinance.

The clarification resolution adopted Wednesday notes that only projects that that propose demolition, new structure construction, and additions that alter a building’s footprint will be affected by the moratorium and that minor projects, like window replacements and chimney and roof repairs, will not be affected.

The study committee was originally asked to investigate the creation of the city’s two newest historic districts. It recommended them both in 2010 and was then disbanded.

But in its recommendation to the city, which the city council ultimately adopted, the committee proposed boundaries contained by streets, but did not specify whether properties adjacent to the outer sides of those streets were also included in those districts. For instance, are beach properties along the boundary Main Street included, and is property along the north side of Market Street included, or is it just the properties between the two streets?

By reactivating it, Mr. Rentrop said, “The study committee will confirm what was it they intended to recommend by way of ordinance to this council.”

The process of updating the ordinance could take several months, he noted.

“There will be some time delay in that because it then has to go to the state agencies and they have to sit there not less than 60 days before a public hearing can be had. But this would then put you ordinance where I believe you intended it to be in the first place.”

Mayor Margaret Doud reappointed Sam Barnwell, Brad Chambers, Mike Hart, Nancy May, and Steve Moskwa to the study committee, but can appoint others if necessary.

The study committee will meet Friday, August 23, at 3 p.m. in city hall to begin discussions as soon as possible, Mr. Rentrop told council members.

Other Business

Bradley McCallum, manager of Mission Point Resort, was appointed by Mayor Doud to fill the Historic District Commission vacancy left by Brad Chambers, who stepped down earlier this summer.

HDC Chairman Andrew Doud noted that Mr. McCallum’s previous experience with historic districts in Detroit, and knowledge of Michigan’s Local Historic Districts Act, will make him a valuable member of the HDC.

Mr. McCallum will begin his service on the commission after all applications currently under HDC consideration are acted upon, Mr. Doud added, since some applications, such as the proposed Main Dock Inn, have been under consideration for months.

Steve Mason, CEO of Lighthouse.net, reviewed with council members two public input sessions he held the week prior. The session held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, August 14, was attended by about 20 people, he noted, while the 6 p.m. meeting ended at 6:30 p.m. owing to lack of attendance.

Many people had issues with the company’s increasing cost of sports channels and wondered if Lighthouse.net could offer a sports-only tier. Mr. Mason said that, after investigating the matter with the sports channels, the cost would actually increase and some networks, like Fox Sports Detroit, said they would not allow the company to broadcast their network.

The company is also waiting to receive new equipment from The Weather Channel to replace a broken module, but doesn’t know when the replacements will be delivered. The faulty module has caused the channel’s timer and radar system to be inaccurate.

Mr. Mason also noted that the company is open to customer comments and concerns.

The city’s Finance Committee will seek costs to repair the chimneys and dormers on the Stuart House building soon.

Mr. St. Onge brought up the ongoing projects, saying the city shouldn’t expect citizens to adhere to historic preservation guidelines while city projects go unfinished for years.

“It’s a matter of hypocrisy and it’s going to cost a lot of money, but I think it’s a bad deal that we sit here and tell people, again, what the can and can’t do with their building… and here we sit now, year six or year seven…with these chimneys tore off the Stuart House, perhaps the most historic building on Market Street, and we’re sitting here with a piece of tarp over those chimney holes,” he said.

Other council members agreed that the matter should be addressed and referred the matter to the Finance Committee, which has not scheduled its next meeting.

The project has already been quoted twice, noted city eingineer Dennis Dombroski.

Council approved 15 motor vehicle permits for the upcoming paving projects for the city and Grand Hotel. The projects will begin Monday, September 9, and will continue to October. Reith Riley is the sole contractor for the jobs.

Mr. Dombroski noted that he worked with the company to pair down the number of vehicles necessary for the job and noted the company will be working at sites simultaneously, prepping some areas while finishing others.

Council members asked that Mr. Dombroski insures vehicles be properly escorted and that workers use bicycles as much as possible when moving between sites.

Mr. Dombroski noted that the Michigan Department of Transportation had to receive another bid for needed work on M-185. It had been suggested at an earlier meeting that MDOT could also contract Reith Riley to do paving work, but a decision has yet to be made.

The city granted a temporary motor vehicle permit for a satellite truck to broadcast the Michigan Republican Leadership Conference at Grand Hotel in mid-September. The vehicle will be on the Island for four days, starting September 19.

Council approved a request by assistant city foreman Sid De- Haan to replace the windshield and two doors on the city’s tractor.

He said in a memo that the windshield was never replaced after being broken last year, adding it was difficult to see out of the vehicle’s doors.

The new doors will cost $580, plus $150 shipping, and the windshield will cost $457, plus $145 to ship, for a total cost of $1,332.

A new radio repeater at the Fort Holmes radio tower will be installed at a cost not to exceed $5,800, approval given to the Mackinac Island Fire Department for the project.

A letter from the Puttkammer family commending the city for responding to concerns about congestion and maintenance of roads in the annex, was received. Taxi and shuttle traffic has been rerouted and the roads have been treated to reduce the amount of dust.

“It’ very nice to get a thank you sometimes,” commented Mayor Doud.

Mr. Dombroski announced that the city’s new street lamp posts will be shipped September 27.

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