2017-03-02 / Front Page

Hill Island Bridge Costs Approved

By Erich T. Doerr

An agreement for the upcoming work on the Hill Island Bridge project was approved at the Clark Township Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday morning, February 15, as was a 90% down payment on its new rescue truck.

The road agreement with the Mackinac County Road Commission is to replace the bridge connecting Hill Island to the mainland. The project is estimated to cost $750,000, with the commission covering all the engineering costs. The township will pay $37,500, and grants will cover the other $712,500.

Hill Island bridge was built in 1938.

The township will make a down payment of $218,671 to manufacturer Emergency Vehicles of Florida toward the purchase of the new rescue truck. With this down payment, the company will decrease the total purchase price of the truck from $242,968 to $234,765.

The township already has the money on hand to pay for the rescue truck in the meantime, with a tax millage to fund it to be collected this December, and will soon sign the contract to finalize the purchase.

“I’m going to squeeze pennies” to pay for it in the meantime, Treasurer Jason Sherlund said. “We’ll make it work. (This down payment) is fiscally responsible for our taxpayers.”

Resident Paul Hitchens spoke to the board about a number of topics of personal concern, including the possibility of the township spending money on overtime pay to plow the Albert J. Lindberg Airport runway at Hessel, saying that expense isn’t needed, as only little traffic uses it in the winter months. Township Supervisor Gary Reid said none has been spent on that this winter. The Federal Aviation Administration requires all airports to have plans in place for snow removal every winter and keep their runways open whenever possible.

The Hessel airport averages 21 flights a month. Twenty-three families regularly use the airport, with the families’ homes contributing $7.4 million in taxable value to the community, the township pointed out.

Mr. Hitchens also suggested the township should use different tactics for snow removal, such as using a front-end loader with a blade instead of trucks with plows, or privatizing the task. He also suggested that the township should upgrade its lawn mowers at the airport for the summer months, noting that current mowers are undersized for the task at hand. Mr. Reid said that the privatization of plowing might not be a bad idea and the township should look at subcontracting the service.

Mr. Hitchens also questioned the availability of township officials, as the township hall is only open 30 hours a week, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. He wants to see the officials working more hours in the hall, although that would mean increasing pay.

Road Commission Manager Dirk Heckman informed the township that the commission would be assuming all roadside mowing and brushing costs and restoring their efforts back to previous levels this year. The commission will also be increasing its winter road maintenance efforts.

Mr. Reid updated the board on two recent breeches in a 10-inch sewer line on Blind Line Road, reporting that since they were repaired in December there have been no further issues. The two issues occurred relatively close to each other, raising concerns the pipe could be suffering fatigue, but the township is continuing to monitor it and it appears the situations were isolated.

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