2017-03-09 / Front Page

City Fire Station Plans Progressing

By Erich T. Doerr


This artistic rendering shows what the new St. Ignace fire hall could look like if its construction comes to fruition. The plan calls for a building including three bays for storing fire engines indoors, plus space on the side for offices, a meeting room, and a workshop. The city is looking to build the fire hall at the corner of Chambers Street and South Marley Street. (Rendering by C2AE) This artistic rendering shows what the new St. Ignace fire hall could look like if its construction comes to fruition. The plan calls for a building including three bays for storing fire engines indoors, plus space on the side for offices, a meeting room, and a workshop. The city is looking to build the fire hall at the corner of Chambers Street and South Marley Street. (Rendering by C2AE) The proposed new St. Ignace fire hall at the corner of Chambers Street and South Marley Street near the I-75 and US-2 interchange was a point of discussion Monday, March 6, for the St. Ignace City Council. Members of the council and the public considered renderings of what the building could look like while the city explored at its options for funding the construction.

St. Ignace Councilman and Assistant Fire Chief Steven Paquin said the city, Moran Township, and St. Ignace Township are all looking at their options for funding the construction of the hall. The groups met Thursday, March 2, at a fire committee meeting to establish that the three municipalities are committed to the project. The fire department is looking for letters of support from each community, with the St. Ignace council passing one Monday. Moran Township passed a similar one a week ago. The fire department hopes to work with the Mackinac County Building Authority to acquire a bond for the project.


This site plan shows how the proposed new St. Ignace fire hall could be built. The site selected for the hall is a Michigan Department of Transportation property near the I-75 and US-2 interchange. (Rendering by C2AE) This site plan shows how the proposed new St. Ignace fire hall could be built. The site selected for the hall is a Michigan Department of Transportation property near the I-75 and US-2 interchange. (Rendering by C2AE) The early estimates are that the fire hall could cost about $2.5 million to build, although the project is still a year away from taking any bids. It is believed that all three communities will likely have to pass a millage to fund the construction. The rates of these millages have not been determined yet. Mr. Paquin estimated the city’s millage could be in the range of about 0.75 of a mill for about 20 years. Before any millage makes its way to voters, the fire department will launch an educational campaign to inform people of the need for the station through open houses, distributing pamphlets, and other means. A millage would be on the ballot no earlier than the November election.

The renderings from C2AE shown Monday included an artistic representation of the exterior of the building, a floor plan, and a graphic showing how it would be placed on the property. The building as proposed would have three bays for parking fire engines and other equipment. The interior would also include an office for the fire chief, a room for writing reports, a meeting room, a workshop, restrooms, and storage space. Parking for non-emergency vehicles would be available in front and behind the structure.

Following up on a prior request to consider proposed options for an alternate fire hall site, Mr. Paquin reaffirmed to the council that the US-2 site is “the best location for our setup.” He said the location is ideal because it is adjacent to where many current firefighters live, offering a chance for quicker response times. It’s location on a Michigan Department of Transportation property away from downtown also means that using the site will not require taking a property off local tax rolls and that there will be no conflicts in accessing the station related to downtown events.

Mayor Connie Litzner updated the council with two city hiring notes. Utilities Foreman Bill Fraser has accepted the city’s offer to become the new Superintendent of Public Works, replacing the retiring City Manager Les Therrian as the city divides his duties. He will start in his new posi- tion July 1. Christina Deeren has also returned to the city, renegotiating with St. Ignace to resume her former role as its assessor.

The city’s decision to put in place a public works superintendent now, rather than leaving the selection up to a future city manager, stemmed from the need to make sure the department has qualified people in place with the required certifications, well before Mr. Therrian leaves, Mayor Litzner told The St. Ignace News. Mr. Fraser can take additional training from Mr. Therrian in the interim. Also, she said, when the city council chooses its future city manager, it does not want to be constrained by the need to choose a candidate with a focus on DPW operations.

“If we were without a public works director when hiring our manager, we would have to pick someone as a manager who has those skills,” she said. “This way, we’ll already have that in place. And Bill has been doing this work a long time.”

Police Chief Mark Wilk reported that the city has received a Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority Risk Avoidance Program (RAP) grant for the installation of cameras and other additional security measures at City Hall. The city will receive $23,000 for the cameras with the requirement to purchase them within the next six months. The city will receive another $23,000 to purchase newer cameras in seven years. The city has already received two bids for the camera system, and once installed, it will need to match the hall’s existing cameras.

The cameras will be positioned at building entrances, in the police department office, and other areas to improve security. The grant will also fund up to half of the cost of other improvements designed to increase safety for city officials and employees, including a buzzer system to enter the building and bulletproof glass for offices. Estimates are not in yet on what these security improvements will cost. Mr. Therrian said the city would be able to pay for the improvements using money left from the hall’s recent roof and window work.

Mr. Therrian said security would also be increased through the use of cameras at the city’s water plant. The plant was given options for improving security with either cameras or a fence, and selected the cameras; it is believed a fence could have interfered with large truck access to the structure.

Mr. Wilk reported that the city’s new police car has arrived. He hopes to have the car in service around the end of the month.

Little Bear East Arena manager and Recreation Director Scott Marshall gave the council his annual report on the status of the arena. He said he would be breaking it into two parts, focusing on the approach to business at the arena and future plans this time, then returning with its financial information at a future meeting.

Mr. Marshall said while the arena has been focused on operating in “survival mode” of late, there have been numerous improvements at the building, including at the fitness center. He noted St. Ignace is not a big enough community to fully support a fitness center, but that the center is an important asset for the community.

Mr. Marshall also noted the importance of setting up the arena’s ice each winter because doing so supports the St. Ignace Hockey Association, the community, and the hosting of tournaments. The tournaments bring many people to town, benefiting all kinds of local businesses. The staff knows its audience and targets their advertising accordingly.

“We are selling the experience,” Mr. Marshall said. “We know who our target customers are.”

Mr. Marshall said there are three keys to success in a service business like the arena. The first is being able to look at the business through the eyes of the customer with the second being that every detail of the site, from its performance to the cleanliness of the bathrooms, speaks volumes about it. The third is the “wow” factor that makes the place special. Mr. Marshall emphasized that customers want good service.

“A business is as good as the people it has working in it,” Mr. Marshall said. “Happy employees are productive employees.”

Mr. Marshall believes the arena presently isn’t living up to its potential, while still remaining in its budget. For the future he said the arena will have to improve its marketing, cut costs where it can, and continue making its product better through customer service.

Mr. Therrian reported a resolution is in development to raise the city’s water and sewer rates so that commercial users will see an increase in the ready to serve (RTS) charges of 1.5% for sewer services and 2% for water services on their commodity rates. The goal is to receive more in payment from commercial users as they account for a majority of the city’s water use. Commercial use accounts for 60% of water usage in St. Ignace, but only 50% of payments. He will have the resolution ready for consideration at the council’s next meeting Monday, March 20. Steven Paquin said that the city does not like to raise water rates, but it has to from time to time to maintain the system and pay its debts related to it. The March 6 meeting was preceded by a one-hour work session for the council that focused on the water rate issues and the need to raise them. The city took over its sewer system in 1979 and built its current water plant in 1982.

Return to top


Click here for digital edition
2017-03-09 digital edition