Council authorizes Lighthouse Park renovation plan

Manistee resident Bobbi Rogers Krause, who organized the Friends of Lighthouse Park group to push to repair the park, spoke to the council before the vote. She has been working with city officials to reopen the park. (Sean Bradley/News Advocate)

Manistee resident Bobbi Rogers Krause, who organized the Friends of Lighthouse Park group to push to repair the park, spoke to the council before the vote. She has been working with city officials to reopen the park. (Sean Bradley/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The Manistee City Council voted 7-0 to authorize renovations to Lighthouse Park, which has been closed since last August after arsenic contamination testing was done.

The playground, built in 1995 near First Street Beach, was closed by the city due to reports last summer of wooden playground structures in Northern Michigan similar to those in the park being contaminated during the manufacturing process.

A plan has been formulated, based on test results, to reopen the park that includes utilizing Manistee Department of Public Works (DPW) employees, a volunteer group and various donations, according to a June 1 memo from DPW director Jeff Mikula to city manager Thad Taylor.

Lighthouse Park has been closed since last year after arsenic contamination testing was done. City officials are planning to have the park opened by July 4. (News Advocate File Photo)

Lighthouse Park has been closed since last year after arsenic contamination testing was done. City officials are planning to have the park opened by July 4. (News Advocate File Photo)

The remaining out-of-pocket expense, estimated at $3,000, will come from the city’s fund balance.

Manistee resident Bobbi Rogers Krause, who organized the Friends of Lighthouse Park group to push to repair the park, spoke to the council before the vote.

Mayor pro tem Eric Gustad thanked the residents and the city for taking charge and collaborating on the issue.

“When you think about what has happened in Manistee and some of the things that don’t go as well as we’d like them to do and you’d like to see citizens step up and then get support, not only from local communities and citizens but also businesses and such to make an effort like this (is great),” Gustad said. “It’s kind of an anchor down there by First Street and it’s nice to see that collaboration between private citizens and the government can make that happen.”

Krause said before the meeting that she began to push to reopen the park because she, her husband and two children live near it.

“I had followed the Kids Kove in Traverse City and how that was torn down, so that was fresh in my mind and didn’t want that to happen,” Krause said. “When I read the paper and saw it would cost $35,000, I wondered why it would cost so much.”

Kids Kove was found to have high levels of arsenic in the soil used at the structure, causing the park to be razed last year.

“There’s no reason for the city to spend a lot of money on things the community can do,” Krause said.

The DPW estimated costs between $30,000 and $35,000 to remove the existing wood chips, place a barrier on the ground surface to prevent human contact, stain the structure and place a new surface treatment.

Funds were not identified for this renovation during the 2016-17 City of Manistee fiscal year budget process, according to the memo.

However, since the budget process, Rogers, the city and the Friends of Lighthouse Park have been working to complete the renovation with fewer dollars.

According to the memo, the costs break down as such:

  • $500 for hazardous materials removal training to remove the wood chips. This would also be done by DPW employees who already have, or will have, completed the training;
  • $2,000 for material costs to place the soil barrier; and
  • $500 estimated for new signage.

The following items have been donated: woodchip disposal done by Republic Services; $750 total donated from FLP to purchase and apply sealant, and Packaging Corporation of America donated new woodchips, which will be placed by FLP volunteers.

Council member Lynda Beaton thanked Rogers for helping to reduce the cost of the project.

“You took a $35,000 problem — money that we did not have — and you whittled that down. You got the donations you needed and you whittled it down to $3,000,” Beaton said. “I can’t thank you enough for your efforts.”

Krause said before the meeting that she has received “overwhelming support” from community members and has commitments from groups such as the Manistee Rotary Club to help with the work.

She said she is pushing to have the park reopened by July 1, which is the start of the Manistee National Forest Festival.

Mikula said during the meeting that the plan is to reopen the park by July 4.

Krause is also working to have the Friends of Lighthouse Park become a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization through the Manistee County Community Foundation for funds for future park maintenance.

Also at the meeting:

  • Council went into closed session after the meeting at the request of Taylor, as permitted by the Open Meetings Act Section 8A, for a periodic evaluation of Taylor;
  • Council voted to amend the Household Hazardous Waste program section of its contract with Republic Services to hold an annual collection event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in April or May each year at a location to be determined; and
  • Council removed an agenda item awarding a $136,596.52 bid to Hallack Contracting to reconstruct 12th Street from Maple to Oak streets. This will be taken up at a later date pending the outcome of a hearing regarding 12th Street in the Manistee County 19th Circuit Court.

The next city council work session is at 7 p.m. on June 14 in the council chambers at Manistee City Hall, located at 70 Maple St. A discussion will be conducted on the Downtown Development Authority and on Combined Sewer Overflows.

The next city council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on June 21 in the council chambers at Manistee City Hall.

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Posted by Sean Bradley

Sean is the city and cops and courts reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the entertainment and Reasons to Celebrate pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3109 or sbradley@pioneergroup.com.

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