2012-04-05 / Front Page

Historical Society To Get Dock Pieces

City Reverses Decision To Scrap Artifacts
By Mary Petrides

The Michilimackinac Historical Society should be custodian of the pieces of the Chief Wawatam railroad elevator by late April or early May, when a Cheboygan construction company removes the elevator and adds about 200 tons of stone to the dock to reinforce it and prevent further erosion into the lake.

Ryba Marine Construction Company, contracted to remove the debris after the elevator’s August 3, 2011 collapse, had planned to sell the steel for scrap and use the revenue to have the wood hauled away, City Manager Les Therrian told the St. Ignace City Council Monday, April 2. Instead, the company can drop the pieces at the Mill Slip, where the historical society will haul it to a location in Moran for safekeeping until a preservation plan can be made.

Last week, Mr. Therrian had decided to have the debris removed without taking it before the council, noting the liability the city would face if pieces injure a pedestrian or fall into the lake and damage a boat. The city’s insurance would cover the entire cost to remove the historic structure until August 3. Doug Taylor, historical society member, contacted city officials after he found out about the decision and made arrangements with the city and construction company to have the pieces turned over to the historical society. Mr. Therrian authorized the plan Monday afternoon, before the Council met.

The arrangements were discussed at the Council meeting, but no formal action was taken.

City Attorney Prentiss Brown told The St. Ignace News after the meeting that Mr. Therrian’s negotiations with the insurance company should have been approved by the council.

“I think Les has worked out a pretty good thing, but I do think he ought to get his negotiations confirmed, to take the heat off him, by the Council,” he said.

Mayor Paul Grondin told The St. Ignace News Friday, March 30, that he wanted to see the dock restored but he couldn’t justify spending money on restoration.

At Monday’s meeting, Councilman Steve Paquin said the city should protect itself from liability once the material is removed from the dock. It should not be the city’s responsibility to dispose of it further, if the historical society is unable to remove it from the Mill Slip. Chief of Police Mark Wilk suggested drawing up some sort of contract to spell this out, but no action was taken.

In response to a question from Councilman Tom Della-Moretta, Mr. Taylor said historical society members were pursuing grants to preserve the structure, but had not yet received money or raised funds.

In other matters, Judy Gross asked councilmen what had come of their idea to ask the county for services, such as police protection, in return for the taxes the city pays to the county. Mr. Therrian said such matters are being discussed but, because St. Ignace is an incorporated city, it is responsible for its own police force.

“It’s not really something you can get help from the county on,” he said.

The council passed a resolution in support of the Downtown Development Authority’s plan to replace about 320 feet of the Huron Boardwalk, which is old and deteriorating.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Representatives Frank Foster, Margaret O’Brien, and Kenneth Kurts, and the governor’s representative to northern Michigan, Greg Andrews, attended the meeting and posed for photographs with city council members.

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