2017-04-27 / News

Council Supports Concert Series, Mulls Dues and Launch Site

St. Ignace City Council April 10 and April 17
By Erich T. Doerr

The city is considering a waterfront launching area for kayaks and other light boats, and has asked the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to consider pushing back the start of work at the St. Anthony’s Rock Park until after the busy season. These topics were among those discussed at the City Council meeting Monday, April 17.

Other matters included an update on the Fred Paquin litigation concerning his right to run for office, city support of St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce activities, and rejection of an offer to purchase a North State Street lot that has been lost to taxes.

Marina Director Mike Singleton and Clyde Hart are applying for a grant to develop a launching area for paddling vessels. If the project comes to fruition, it would be built in a stony beach area at the marina alongside the Chief Wawatam dock. The mini-grant from the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development Commission, if approved, would be used for design and engineering.

The DDA will discuss the city’s request to postpone major summer construction of the new downtown park, Director Deb Evashevski told the council, but would like to get some of it underway yet this spring.

Mrs. Evashevski has been talking with Councilman Steven Paquin, who suggested it may be best to hold off on construction until the conclusion of the summer tourist season. His concerns include traffic, as parking is limited in that park of downtown and bringing in large vehicles like concrete trucks for the project could take up enough space to cause concerns. Mrs. Evashevski is weighing her options, saying even a small start on the project before things get busy could help speed up the project down the road. She told The St. Ignace News the work could be done in stages, with perhaps demolition and the construction of a new concrete base and retaining wall still possible this spring to give the property a nice look until the remaining work can be completed. The DDA later agreed to push back most of the work for now. (See related story in this issue.)

A 23-minute closed session of the council focused on a discussion with city attorney Tom Evashevski about the city’s ongoing litigation with Fred Paquin. The 11th Circuit Court case is being appealed and awaiting scheduling of oral arguments, Mr. Evashevski told The St. Ignace News, probably in the fall. Mr. Paquin is suing the city after it declared him ineligible to run for the city council. Michigan’s State Constitution declares anyone who was convicted of fraud in the line of their duties for a local government is ineligible to run for office, and Mr. Paquin previously pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States working for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Mr. Evashevski said the appeal concerns whether the tribe can be deemed a local government in the state. The circuit court said it can be, leading to this appeal.

The council will contribute $3,000 to the Chamber of Commerce for the Bayside Live! weekly concert series at the public marina. All of the money from the annual payment will go directly toward the event’s costs, including advertising and wages.

Payment for another summer event, the city’s July 4 fireworks show, was also approved Monday. The city has again hired Kawkawlin’s Wolverine Fireworks Display this year, paying $10,000.

The council gave permission for a schedule of weekly Saturday fireworks shows over Moran Bay. While council gave permission for the shows to take place downtown, the city does not pay for them; all but the holiday show are paid for by businesses and donations through the Visitors Bureau and the Special Events Committee. Fireworks displays will take place on the following dates: June 24, July 8, July 15, July 22, July 29, August 5, August 12, August 19, August 26, September 2, and September 9.

The council is still mulling over another request from the Chamber of Commerce: the payment of the city’s annual chamber membership dues of $5,000. This was previously discussed by the council at a work session Monday, April 10, when council discussed the purpose of the funds. Typically, the city makes two payments to the Chamber of Commerce each year, totaling $8,000. The first is the $3,000 payment for the Bayside Live concerts, and the second for membership dues. The dues payment drew comment from city officials April 10, including Mayor Connie Litzner, who had sought more information from the chamber to learn what the city receives in exchange for its dues. She was informed that the chamber uses that funding for year-around promotion of a number of city assets, including the public library, the golf and country club, Little Bear East Arena, the marina, and the Downtown Development Authority. The chamber said it also posts advertisements for the city in its visitors guide and on its Web site.

City attorney Tom Evashevski did not attend the April 10 meeting, but had advised Mayor Litzner that the city is not allowed to just give the chamber money; it has to be a contracted exchange for services. Several council members, including Jay Tremble and Steven Paquin, voiced their support April 10 for the concert program, but not the city dues payment. Councilmember Luke Paquin suggested he would like to see the chamber actively launch a membership drive in the future, bringing in more members and increasing its revenue flow. He noted the chamber frequently finds itself in need of additional funding, and that is one way to get it.

The council will continue to consider the request for the dues payment.

Council declined to purchase a tax reverted property that could then be repurposed for public use. It was offered by Mackinac County to be purchased at auction. The property, a landlocked area west of 810 North State Street, would have cost at least $1,142.33 to bid on and had been given a state equalized value of $3,840.

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