Harbor Commission OK’d to solicit funds for marina project

An initiative was formalized by the commission to solicit sponsorship to partner with a company for project funding. (News Advocate File Photo)

Manistee City Council authorized an initiative on Tuesday night, for the Harbor Commission to solicit sponsorship to fund the Manistee Municipal Marina’s patio completion. (News Advocate File Photo)

MANISTEE — After plenty of debate at the Manistee City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the Harbor Commission will now solicit sponsorship to fund the completion of the Manistee Municipal Marina patio area.

The commission agreed that concrete would be the best option for the project; costs would range between $9,000 and $11,000. An initiative was formalized by the commission to solicit sponsorship to partner with a company for project funding.

On Tuesday, city council voted to authorize the sponsorship solicitation at a vote 6-1; mayor pro-tem Roger Zielinski voted no.

Bringing up an alternative route for payment, Zielinski asked Ed Bradford, city chief financial officer, whether or not the city could pay for the project, speeding up the process of its completion.

“I believe that this patio will enhance the use of our marina,” said Zielinski. “I would entertain the thought that maybe we could come up with the funds some way to just do this, rather than have them solicit funds.”

Bradford said the city would be able to use money from its general fund, if council voted to approve that route. Jeff Mikula, Department of Public Works director, said crew members with the DPW could complete the work, further reducing costs — if the city decided to fund the project.

“The marina fund certainly cannot support that level of expenditure,” said Bradford. “If council was in agreement and they wanted to try and fund that, I would suggest it come out of our general fund balance, which had a sizable surplus at the end of the fiscal year of 2017.”

Council member Lynda Beaton voiced her opinion on the issue, saying the Harbor Commission should solicit donations first, allowing businesses/companies to contribute to the project, if desired. Council member Erin Pontiac agreed with Beaton.

“I am not sure I see a downside to allowing contributions from various organizations or companies for the new patio,” said Beaton. “I don’t understand why we would want to do that out of our taxpayer money if we can actually get contributions for it.”

Glenn Zaring, with the Harbor Commission, said if the commission solicits donations it could take months to secure funds. He said the marina patio might not be available for use until the summer of 2019, if the process becomes lengthy.

“We have obviously been struggling with this issue for some time now,” said Zaring. “My concern is that we wait for another year, we try for six or seven months to get the funds and that’s going to put it beyond the point that we can build it for this year.”

Ty Cook, Harbor Commission chair, said the work has to be done, as it was a part of the marina’s original plans to make it more useful and presentable to boaters. Mayor Jim Smith said the marina currently has other expenses and areas that need to be updated in the future, as well.

Cook added that the city would also need to decide who will maintain and be able to use the marina patio — whether it’s for boaters only or the public. Zielinski suggested that the area should be left open to the general public, as it would be difficult to limit it only to the boaters.

“It depends on who is going to be able to use this area,” said Cook. “We need to make these decisions. I think it’s essential that we do address the completion of that area.”

Council agreed to consider other alternatives to sponsorships in the future if the effort is not successful.

“I think we should see how it goes first and then go from there,” said Pontiac.

Also on Tuesday, council unanimously voted to approve the first reading of a medical marijuana facilities Zoning Ordinance Amendment. A second reading is required before it can be adopted by council.

A public hearing was held by the Manistee Planning Commission on Thursday, where public input was sought on the proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment. No public comments were made on the agenda item.

The commission unanimously approved the Zoning Ordinance Amendment, and made a recommendation to council. If approved, developers interested in operating medical marijuana facilities within the city must apply for several licenses.

Also on Tuesday, Smith made a motion to add an item to the agenda, for a proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to renew an agreement with the Manistee County Blacker Airport Authority and its elected provider North Country Sky. The proposal was approved unanimously by council.

On Jan. 31, the airport’s authority members approved sending the Alternate Essential Air Service proposal to DOT, which is ultimately charged with approving the proposed two-year agreement between Blacker and North Country Sky.

City council also unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve the following agenda items:

• A budget amendment for the fiscal year ending on June 30. The city is required by state law to ensure expenditures do not exceed budgeted amounts;

• The St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17, starting on the corner of Maple and River streets, heading west on River Street and ending at the fountain in front of the marina. The Manistee Elks Lodge No. 250 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks applied for the approval; and

• A proposal from Top Line Electric to build and install a new control panel for the Cherry Street lift station, which is scheduled for replacement this year. Top Line Electric is the city’s vendor of record, set to complete work at $39,510.

A report was also given by Matt Biolette, with Republic Services, reporting on waste management and recycling services.

Council will meet for a work session at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 in council chambers at City Hall, which will include a MERS presentation and discussion on the Quarterly Strategic Plan Update and any other business.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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