2017-11-16 / Front Page

Streetlights Might Wait for Funding

By Kevin R. Hess

The St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce has agreed to purchase the property at 560 North State Street from the Downtown Development Authority for $145,000. The Chamber has been leasing the building. The St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce has agreed to purchase the property at 560 North State Street from the Downtown Development Authority for $145,000. The Chamber has been leasing the building. The St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce will buy the property it leases from the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) at 560 North State Street for $145,000, following acceptance of their offer from the DDA board Friday, November 10.

Included in the deal is a prepaid 10-year lease for office space for the Museum of Ojibwa Culture manager, making the actual value of the purchase $210,000, the appraised value of the property.

Pending November 15 Chamber board approval of the purchase agreement and a title search, the two parties will complete the transaction.

Brandon Postma Investments also leases space in the building, and the Chamber plans to renew that lease when it is up at the end of the year.

The Chamber of Commerce has been in the building for 20 years and considers the location ideal, especially now that all the ferry traffic has moved to the north end of town. The location is also familiar to returning visitors.

DDA Director Deb Evashevski told the board that a grant to fund the downtown streetlight project, if approved, could pay for up to 60% of the project, would require the DDA to fund a study that would prove that the proposed lighting would be better, safer, and more energy-efficient, as well as show that the current number of streetlights is sufficient to properly light the downtown area. Doing so would increase the estimated cost of the project from $160,000 to $205,000 and push the project back until spring 2019. With the grant, the DDA would have to pay $82,000. Without the grant, the DDA could start the project sooner, but would have to pay for the entire project. The initial plan, when the Visitors Bureau was considering purchasing the North State Street property, was to fund the project with proceeds from the sale of the property, but when the Visitors Bureau chose not to pursue the purchase, Mrs. Evashevski sought alternative funding. The DDA board believed applying for the grant and saving money may be worth delaying the project.

Mrs. Evashevski told The St. Ignace News that the DDA should know if the grant application was accepted by the end of the year or soon after, and then it will be up to the board to decide what course of action it prefers to take. Board Chairman Jim North said there are two paths the board could take. If the grant is approved, the DDA could use the money saved to fund future projects. Mr. North said the board would also have to take into account the extra cost incurred from funding the study, such as prevailing wages. If the board decided to fund the project with the proceeds from the sale of the Chamber building, they would not incur the extra costs, but would not be able to save for other projects. The sale price of $145,000 is less than the estimated cost of the streetlights, and the DDA has already contributed extra to projects such as the St. Anthony’s

Rock Park and the paving of Ojibwa Trail that cost more than originally estimated.

“It will really come down to what gives us more bang for our buck,” he said. “When we know more about the grant, we’ll have a better idea of which option makes the most sense for us. The good thing for us is that we have two options, so the project will get completed one way or another.”

Work on the pocket park in front of St. Anthony’s Rock is underway and construction of the public restrooms will be completed before spring. Costs for the project came in higher than estimated and Mrs. Evashevski reported that the Visitors Bureau pledged an additional $30,000 toward the project. It had initially pledged $1,000. Construction of a retaining wall is planned for a later date, but DDA board Chairman Jim North asked Mrs. Evashevski to “keep an open mind” concerning it. Mr. North is concerned that the retaining wall may take away from the natural beauty of the area and wants to make sure that the DDA explores all of its options to preserve as much of that beauty as possible, while still properly protecting the area from the rainwater and melted snow that will run down to it.

Ojibwa Trail was been repaved from Marquette to Lemotte streets, with the cost coming in slightly higher than estimated. Lines will be painted in the spring, so the board agreed to contribute $5,000 more toward the work, sharing the cost with the City of St. Ignace.

December’s DDA meeting will mark Mrs. Evashevski’s final, and the first for Renee Kosor as director. The two will work together in December as Mrs. Evashevski trains Ms. Kosor. December will also mark the final meetings for board members John Ruegg, Cathie Sposito, and Don Schairer, who are stepping down upon the completion of their terms. Mr. Ruegg is retiring from his position after serving on the board for 32 years. He currently serves as the vice chairman of the board. Mayor Connie Litzner will appoint three new members to the nine-member board with approval from the St. Ignace City Council. Other board members are Chairman Jim North, secretary Barb Yshinski, Linda Bell, Heather Aukeman, Pat Ramsay, and Mayor Litzner.

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