2014-09-06 / News

New Streetlights to Go Up Sept. 15; Lighthouse Auction Still Open

By Stephanie Fortino

The new street light poles the City of Mackinac Island purchased about a year ago will finally be installed this fall, starting September 15. City council members meeting Tuesday, September 3, authorized city foreman Sid DeHaan to start the project earlier than would typically be allowed.

Council also briefly discussed a Coal Dock appraisal and the Round Island Passage Light public auction.

The new light poles were to be installed last year, but city engineer Dennis Dombroski said the harsh winter halted the project. This year, Mr. DeHaan wants to start the project early to get as much done before the ground freezes and the snow starts falling.

The new light poles will be installed in batches, starting near Mackinac Island Public School along the boardwalk. Some of the old poles in that area are bolted directly to the boards, so new openings have to be cut and framed before the new posts can be installed. Mechanized equipment will be used to remove the old light poles, so the project requires council permission if it is to begin prior to the normal winter construction season, which begins in late October after Grand Hotel and most downtown shops close.

The city crew will be able to install the poles Mondays through Thursdays until the end of the season.

The old light poles will be sold at a price not yet determined.

A second Silver Birches Committee meeting will be Monday, September 8, in the council chambers. Mayor Margaret Doud, councilmembers Kay Hoppenrath and Jason St. Onge, and planning commissioners Mary Dufina and Michael Straus comprise the committee, appointed by the mayor in August to deliberate the city’s ongoing struggle with plans to develop and preserve the historic property.

Of an earlier committee meeting, September 2, Mayor Doud said, “I felt the meeting should be an informative meeting and let the Planning Commission explain exactly why the project was denied…I think it was a very good start to the situation… It’s probably going to take quite a few meetings before we’re at a point of any kind of a recommendation one way or the other. I still feel that there’s got to be a lot of give and take on both sides. This is not an easy decision. And we’re just trying to do our best to try and appreciate all the work that the Planning Commission did.”

Citizens interested in sending letters about the matter should still direct them to the city council, Mayor Doud said. The city received one letter against the request and four in favor of it at the September 3 meeting.

The city will also hold a Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, September 9 at 3 p.m. to speak with Historic District Commission attorney Gary Rentrop about ongoing lawyer fees, and other items. The meeting will be held after the Historic District Commission meeting at 1 p.m. and before the Planning Commission meeting at 4 p.m. All three are in the council chambers.

Council also discussed the Coal Dock appraisal, which is being overseen by attorney John Cameron of Dickinson Wright, a real estate expert who does work for Grand Hotel. City attorney Tom Evashevski told the Town Crier Mr. Cameron is donating his services to coordinate the appraisal.

Council reiterated that they want the entire Coal Dock property and structures appraised, as well as an upland parcel owned by Union Terminal Piers that is located across the end of Astor Street and the Taxi Stand, which are owned by the city. The city has agreed to spend up to $30,000 on the appraisal.

Audience member Lorna Straus also inquired about the public auction of the Round Island Passage Light. She worries that the lighthouse could be used as a billboard, but councilmembers said that is not allowed according to the stipulations of the federal government sale.

There are currently two bids on the lighthouse, with the highest bid at $21,500 made Tuesday morning, September 3. The auction does not have a posted close date. Information on the sale can be found in the “Lighthouses” section at www.realestatesales.gov.

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