2017-09-09 / News

No More Duck Pond: Wendell Street Repairs Coming Soon

By Jacob A. Ball

A pothole on Wendell Street near Mission Point Resort has grown so large ducks are seen swimming in it after a rain, which is why some residents have been referring to it as the “duck pond.”

That pothole and a stretch of the west end of Market Street now are designated for repair, following a city review of streets suffering from damage and deterioration. Both projects were approved August 30 by the City Council and work on them will begin as soon as a timeline is established with a construction company.

Councilor Steven Moskwa first suggested fixing the pothole during a Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, August 29. He said every freeze-and-thaw cycle causes more damage. The pothole is roughly three to four inches deep and easily fills with water during a storm.

Other items discussed at the August 30 council included replacement of the entryway flooring at Stuart House City Museum and the rental of a boom lift for use by workmen on city projects.

Damaged flooring at Stuart House is to be replaced with vinyl wood-like flooring, owing to aesthetic concerns about carpeting currently in the structure, which was at the center of 1820s fur trade on the Island. City workers will install the new flooring, chosen to conceal dirt or mud tracked in by visitors, throughout the museum entryway.

The council tabled a request from RE/MAX of Michigan to display its emblematic hot air balloon during a gathering at Grand Hotel. It approved temporary motor vehicle permits for thÄe month of November, in anticipation of the end of the tourist season, and accepted bids from Ben Mosley and Mike Hepker to buy old police vehicles that have been replaced and taken out of service.

Repaving Wendell Street hadn’t been planned before Mr. Moskwa brought it up at the Finance Committee meeting. Mayor Margaret Doud agreed with him and said she’ll check with carriage tour operators to determine when Wendell Street could close without causing too much disruption.

The pothole possibly can be filled in with millings, the byproduct of asphalt removal from the Mackinac Island Airport runway resurfacing this month.

Pavement damage along Market Street from Cadotte Avenue to Lake Shore Boulevar, known locally as Benjamin Hill, is not as severe. Several small potholes are visible and the seams at the top and bottom of the hill are quite pronounced.

While there isn’t yet a schedule for the two repair projects, Bacco Construction Company of Iron Mountain has agreed to time the work according to city needs. Bacco brought a batch plant to the Island to mix asphalt to resurface the airport runway for Mackinac State Historic Parks.

The old carpeting at Stuart House City Museum had become damaged and dirty after years of use. It was installed to protect and conceal the original hardwood floors, which were worn, chipped, and warped in places. Building inspector Dennis Dombroski said the original flooring is so damaged it wouldn’t be a good idea to remove the carpet without replacing it.

The new flooring drew little discussion during the August 29 Building and Grounds Committee meeting, as the committee members and the audience were satisfied with its appearance and cost. The interlocking wood-like panels with a variegated finish will be purchased and installed for $500. The area where it will be installed is only 150 square feet. City Foreman Sid DeHaan and assistant Mike Ruddle will do the work.

Cordie Puttkammer, a volunteer at Stuart House, said she liked the finish of the floor because she did not want it to be too dark. Councilor Dennis Bradley said the project is small enough that cost isn’t an issue. The Finance Committee cleared the project for unanimous city council approval the next day.

The Finance and Building and Grounds committees came to differing conclusions about the way the city should obtain a boom lift, also referred to as a cherry picker.

Based on the recommendation of Mr. DeHaan, the Building and Grounds Committee settled on purchase of a new one, rather than renting one, as the least-expensive option. Mr. DeHaan had supplied the committee with options for financing its purchase through various monthly payment plans.

The Finance Committee and City Council, however, wondered where the city had space to store a city-owned boom lift and how much it would be used once the projects at hand – repainting and repairing city buildings along Market Street this fall – have been completed. City Councilmember Anneke Myers, who chairs the Finance Committee, said she wasn’t convinced purchasing such a large piece of equipment, estimated cost $28,997, is warranted by the work needing to be done.

Mr. DeHaan had requested the purchase of a boom lift after say- ing he had found it difficult to rent one under reasonable terms, but the City Council approved a three- to four-month rental at $2,650 a month, or $8,000 to $10,000 total. Mr. DeHaan said three to four months should be enough time to finish the projects.

Before making that decision, the councilors discussed the issue of storage for a boom lift, if the city did purchase one, and agreed it shouldn’t be stored outside. Councilor Jason St. Onge, also the fire chief, said a proposal to store it at Fire Station #2 is not acceptable - the space available there is reserved for emergency vehicles. No other storage space was identified during the discussion.

Mr. Moskwa, intent on providing the city maintenance crew with its desired equipment, proposed the compromise of a longterm rental. Mr. Bradley agreed, saying he did not wish to secondguess a department head. He previously had argued that maintenance is a time-consuming job and the equipment could enhance productivity for the city’s two maintenance workers.

The council will reconsider purchasing a boom lift after trying a rental and assessing how well that works.

RE/MAX representatives want to display their hot air balloon at a Grand Hotel celebration of the 40th anniversary of the year the Michigan branch was franchised from the national corporation. They propose to fly the balloon 30 feet to 40 feet off the ground at Grand’s Jewel Golf Course Wednesday, September 20, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Hotel employees directed their plan to City Council after initially being denied based on city guidelines for such displays.

The council delayed action, members saying they have insufficient information about how the balloon would be transported on the Island and are concerned about the location of the planned display. Mr. Dombroski said the hot air balloon is technically an advertisement and, if so, well outside compliance with the city sign ordinance.

Council members raised the possibility, unique to the Island, that the giant balloon could spook horses. Dan Troup, regional director for RE/MAX, said the balloon is equipped with a whisper burner that has been used near police horses in the past, but some councilors were unconvinced, saying police horses are trained to handle significantly more noise and confusion than are carriage horses on Mackinac Island.

Island equestrian enthusiast Trish Martin said, although Mackinac Island horses are better prepared than most to deal with a litany of situations, their training doesn’t compare to the training police horses go through.

Councilors also questioned how the hot air balloon would be transported from a ferry to the golf course. Mr. Dombroski said a deflated balloon can easily fit into the back of a full-size van, but without specifics, the council was not prepared to approve the request.

The council renewed the temporary motor vehicle permit for Bouma Corporation’s construction project at Silver Birches. Mr. St. Onge thanked the construction company for its adherence to city code by continuing to renew the permit all summer.

There were concerns, however, about the transportation of dumpsters from the worksite to a freight dock to be shipped off-island. Recently, this has been occurring without notification to the Police Department, a requirement for motor vehicle operators on Mackinac Island. The council suggested this is not Bouma’s responsibility, but that of the individual who operates the truck used to move dumpsters.

Mr. Bradley said, regardless of who’s culpable, it remains a motor vehicle operation, after which the issue was directed to the Ordinance Committee.

Four temporary motor vehicle permits were issued to Robert Benser and Andrew Doud for work related to the construction of a new hotel on Market Street. The permits are not active until Wednesday, November 1, the date specified by a recent amendment to the motor vehicles ordinance at the end of the tourist season. Until November 1, all applicants must be able to demonstrate that, without earlier approval, they would endure a hardship.

An additional temporary permit was approved for Drug and Laboratory Disposal of Plainwell to conduct the annual household hazardous waste collection, scheduled this year for Saturday, October 14.

A joint meeting of the city council and the Mackinac Island State Park Commission will be held at The Island House Friday, September 29, at 11 a.m.

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