2018-04-07 / News

Council Changes Morning Traffic Times, Hears Update on Coal Dock

By Jacob A. Ball

To improve safety for students traveling to school on dark winter mornings, the city has added 15 minutes to the period when construction trucks are not allowed on the roads. They will now be prohibited from 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Main Street, Market Street, and Cadotte Avenue through Harrisonville, as well as in the Mission and Stonecliffe areas.

Previously, the restriction was from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The change was made at the city council meeting Wednesday, March 28.

City attorney Tom Evashevski provided an update on litigation surrounding the Coal Dock. The next step is a second round of mediation, expected by early May in Traverse City. Mr. Evashevski said the city should be in a better position considering the outcome of a December 2017 court decision that granted possession of Astor Street between the Coal Dock and Main Street to the city. The city wants to own the dock as a municipal freight dock. Mackinac Island Ferry Capital, owners of Arnold Freight Company, appealed the decision, but this could take up to 20 months to be resolved, according to Mr. Evashevski. In the interim, mediation was determined to be the best course of action.

The council passed resolutions to amend the 2018 operating budget, and adopt the 2019 operating budget. The final payments and transfers for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018, were approved by council, which included $15,000 toward the purchase of a new ambulance and $10,000 for the purchase of an additional police vehicle. Acquiring a new ambulance has been a priority of the city, however, changes to the organization for emergency medical services have delayed the purchase. This included cost overruns last year owing to increased wages. This money has been added to the fund set up for the purchase of an ambulance. A new ambulance costs approximately $150,000. The need for an additional police vehicle was made clear after the Department’s new pickup truck was recalled. Chief Lawrence Horn said he would look into purchasing a used four-wheeldrive police vehicle, which will be significantly cheaper than the new vehicle purchased last year.

Only one change was made to the operating budget for the upcoming year, starting at the beginning of April. Councilor Jason St. Onge requested a budget for legal costs associated with the Historic District and Planning commissions. Previously, this expense was handled without a line item in the budget, and he requested this change to ensure that the city maintains oversight of the legal costs. The planning commission has been budgeted $20,000 annually for legal counsel, which is primarily provided by city attorney Tom Evashevski. Another $25,000 has been budgeted for the HDC, as this commission tends to have more legal costs associated with it. Legal guidance related to the historic districts is handled by attorney Gary Rentrop, who specializes in historic preservation.

The annual bicycle license redetermination hearing was Wednesday, March 14, but no decision was made owing to absent council members. At the March 28 meeting, without any further discussion, the council decided to continue at the current number of rental bike licenses, 1,489. Several requests were submitted for additional licenses, including Jim Fisher of Mackinac Wheels and Mackinac Bike Barn, Ira Green of Mackinac Island Bikes, Melanie Libby of Mackinac Cycle, and Alan Sehoyan of Island House Hotel. Mr. Green said he felt issues with staging and congestion in downtown had been solved, and more bikes should be made available in the downtown. Mr. Fisher’s request was to receive the same increase as afforded to any other business owner, but in the end, none of these requests were approved.

American Legion Post 299 Commander Sid DeHaan presented a request to install two additional flags near the Veterans Memorial. The flags, for Mackinac Island Post 299 and the Mackinac Bands of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians, will not be placed in the memorial. Instead, Mr. DeHaan is asking to erect the flagpoles to the left of the sidewalk leading to the public restrooms.

“The American Legion is an important part of the community, and our flag would let visitors know that we are here representing our cherished veterans,” he said.

Lisa Powers of the Mackinac Bands explained past and current members of the Legion have been tribal members, and the inclusion of the Mackinac Bands flag would be a sign of unity with the American Legion and the Island community.

The flagpoles would be constructed without pouring cement. A ground sleeve would be used instead, which is twisted into the soil. The Veterans Committee passed a motion in support of this request that must be approved by city council. Council decided to direct this issue to the Building and Grounds Committee for further discussion.

A letter received from former Island resident Paul Wandrie, Sr. opposed the project. He contends Mackinac Island veterans did not fight for or serve under these flags, and the flags currently at the memorial were chosen for that reason.

He suggested finding a separate location for these flags, which he believes should also include the flags from former American Legion posts, Grand Army of the Republic, and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce has requested a permit for a bicycling event. The Big Mac Scenic Shoreline Bike Tour is a bi-annual event that is now in its 27th year. The event has previously ended with a bike ride across the Mackinac Bridge, but it was canceled by the Mackinac Bridge Authority this year. In its place, the chamber would like to organize a ride around Mackinac Island on M-185. Jamie Mersch, the Mackinaw City chamber director, said this will be beneficial to the Island businesses and the ferry lines, as the two bike rides would occur on low volume traffic days. The council was not convinced of this because the first ride is scheduled for Sunday morning, June 10, during the opening weekend of the lilac festival. Councilor Andrew McGreevy requested additional time to review the request before making a decision. The other permit was for Sunday, September 16.

Council denied a temporary motor vehicle permit requested by roofer Kenneth Couture of Cheboygan. Mr. Couture said he needed a Ford F-450 dump truck to remove siding from a barn in a timely manner, and he was concerned about availability of multiple drays. The council was not swayed by this need because construction crews on Mackinac Island must be willing to manage the special circumstances of working without motor vehicles.

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