2018-04-07 / News

Hoban Street Alley Will Be Bicycle-free for New Hotel Entrance

By Jacob A. Ball

Ryba’s Lakeview Bicycle Rental will no longer stage bicycles in the Hoban Street alleyway, as the construction of a new hotel as part of the Shepler’s Ferry renovation project will lead to increased traffic in this space. During a Mackinac Island Streets Committee meeting Thursday, March 22, a solution was developed in cooperation with the bicycle livery management and the hotel ownership. The alleyway, which leads to the shoreline across Main Street from the end of Hoban Street, will be used as the hotel’s main entrance. This design was to reduce congestion along Main Street, but hotel owners Ira Green and Melanie Libby are concerned about possible collisions between cyclists and their hotel guests. Until now, Ryba’s Bikes has used the Hoban Street alleyway, adjacent to their property, to stage their rentals, but in agreement with the hoteliers, the bike racks will be pushed back three feet from the edge of the alleyway to allow for staging on their property.

Pete Deckert of Ryba’s said the business has been using the alley for staging for many years, as this area has not been frequented by pedestrians in the past. He inquired if the system could be grandfathered, but city attorney Tom Evashevski said a public right-of-way could not be grandfathered.

The street ending will now remain clear throughout the summer, according to the agreed upon plan, to allow hotel guests to access the lobby. Mr. Green of Mackinac Island Bikes, a competing livery on the other side of Shepler’s terminal, said he does not believe this should cause concern, and he was also compelled to move his rental business farther from the street. The likelihood that busier days will require Lakeview Bicycle Rental to stage some bikes in the right-of-way is unknown, but Mr. Deckert did not express any concerns with this arrangement. In addition, other bicycle liveries downtown have agreed to avoid staging bicycles on the sidewalks or streets, but occasionally the level of traffic makes this the only feasible means to expedite the rentals.

Frost Laws in Effect

To avoid damage to the streets, seasonal weight restrictions have been imposed on all paved and gravel roads on Mackinac Island until further notice. The “frost law” restrictions are intended to avoid cracks or stress fractures forming in the pavement due to excessive weight. As the weather warms in the springtime, the ground intermittently warms during the day, and then cools back down at nighttime. This process can often result in the roads heaving and buckling, so when heavy vehicles drive across this surface it can severely damage the pavement.

The frost laws were put into effect Monday, March 19, and with reports of more than four feet of underground frost remaining on Mackinac Island, these restrictions could continue for some time. Even so, most cargo can still be hauled by horses and freight drays, but dumpsters will not be moved around until the frost has left the ground, including an idle one that sits between Chippewa Hotel and the Mackinac Island Visitors Center. It is being used by construction crews renovating the hotel, but Mackinac Island State Park needs it relocated to perform a street cut to install a new waterline for the Visitors Center. Myron Johnson, assistant park manager, said the dumpster is an obstacle to completing the work. Building inspector Dennis Dombroski said there is no way this dumpster could be moved because, after sitting there throughout the winter, it is full of snow, ice, and water and is much heavier than it would be otherwise. For now, it will be pushed farther down the sidewalk between the two buildings. This should allow the park access to the existing utility connection without violating the frost laws.

The dumpster could be moved if the weight was significantly reduced, but it is overflowing already. Mr. Dombroski suggested unloading some of the garbage onto a dray or another dumpster to reduce the weight enough to move it, but this might require three dumpsters to accomplish.

AT&T Fiber Optic


AT&T received approval from city council in December 2017 to lay fiber-optic cables along the shoreline downtown, but the service provider has been unable to secure the bottomland rights from the Department of Natural Resources. It was determined that there are too many variables and uncertainties to place the fiber along the bottomlands, according to AT&T engineer Ron Ouellette. Instead, the company wants a permit to place the “microfiber” cable along the foundations of the buildings adjacent to the sidewalk. Mr. Dombroski opposed this alternative proposal owing to the possible costs the city could incur if the cable was accidently severed during excavation. The repair of a fiber optic cable, unlike other communication systems, could cost thousands of dollars per hour.

The fiber optics would provide high-speed Internet access downtown, and the provider already has three pending orders for service. Owing to the concerns about the cost of repairs, the city has requested an agree- ment to ensure the city, property owners, and contractors are not liable for these expenses.

AT&T has asked that the city request this agreement in writing, which the city will do by letter. If AT&T does not agree to this arrangement, the application will be denied, according to the Streets Committee.

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