This section is very unofficial -- just observations of Your Editor.
Report On Highlights of June 21, 1999 Township Board Meeting.
Members Jim Boggio, John Clarkson, Gerry Johnson, Jeane Olson and Don Keith were present, as was Deputy Clerk Bruce Wagner and Deputy Treasurer Ann Johnson. The meeting was held in the basement of St. Peter's Church to accomodate the "summer" attendance of about 40 residents.
The May 10th Meeting Minutes were approved without amendment.
Don Keith Retained As Water System Manager Supervisor Boggio reported that long time water system operator Don Keith would stay on as the "licensed" water system operator while new hire Rick Finke learned the system operation and trained for his own state required license. Rick, son-in-law of Treasurer Gerry Johnson and Deputy Treasurer Ann Johnson, is moving to the Harbor and will begin his duties on July 1st.
Water Board Recommends New Center Street Main Boggio reported that the Township's advisory Water Board was recommending that an 8" watermain be installed in Center Street from the existing 8" main in 7th Street to either Third Street (near Township Hall) or alternatively, to Front Street if sufficient funds are available. The new main would correct water pressure problems in the center of the village. The Board authorized bid taking for the alternative projects. If contracts are awarded, the main would be installed this Fall. No project cost estimate was given nor was the method of paying for it discussed. The project would apparently be financed out of available and anticipated water system revenues.
Perhaps A Beach Raft This Summer.Supervisor Boggio reported that because the Harbor water level had risen about 6" to 8" in the past several weeks, the earlier decision to not install the beach raft this summer was being reconsidered. The water depth at the raft location is about 4 to 5 feet. Jim also thanked Fred and Colleen Geis for installing the swim area markers.
Goodell Road Improvement Hearing Date Set Goodell Road is a private road serving the lakeshore properties east of Grand Marais. More than half of the property owners have petitioned the Board to have the road improved with the cost assessed against the abutting properties. Goodell Road resident and contractor Fritz Kesanen has offered to do the work for material cost only. The Board approved the employment of Kesanen for the work without further bids, and set a public hearing on the proposal for 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 7th, at the Township Hall.
Hearing Date Set and Surveyor Retained For Hebard Park Assessor's Plat Trustee Jeane Olson, who heads the joint Township and affected property owner committee managing this endeavor to resolve survey discrepancies in the original Hebard plat, reported that four bids had been received for the surveying of this assessor's plat and the committee was recommending the contract be awarded to the low bidder, Robert Crampton. His bid was about $25,000. This cost and the Township incurred legal and administrative expenses would be assessed against the 45 parcels in the plat. The Board set a public hearing on the special assessment project for 9 a.m., Wednesday, July 7th, at the Township Hall.
Township Hall Expansion Committee Reports Bob Masnado, chair of a committee charged with reviewing and recommending options for the installation of public bathrooms and office space expansion at the Township Hall, presented the committee's findings. Verne Robinson and Dick Lantz are the other committee members. Bob had prepared a model showing the options, and reviewed the pros and cons of each. He noted that any expansion by connecting to the existing Township Hall structure and/or the Fire Hall was complicated and expensive because of structural deficiencies in the roofs of the existing structures. He presented an option of meeting the immediate need for public restrooms by installing a free-standing bathroom structure on the utility ready building pad constructed last summer adjacent to the Hall. At a later date, if additional funding is available, the new bathroom structure could be connected to the Hall and converted to office space. Supervisor Boggio noted that the Township might consider meeting its future needs for office space by erecting a freestanding prefabricated structure, similiar to those recently installed on several Township lots, adjacent to the existing buildings. He thought this would be a less expensive option to expansion and provide superior space. The existing building would utilized by the Fire Department. No decision was made, but the matter is expected to be considered by the Board at its July meeting. A expenditure of $25,000 for this project is included in the Township's current annual budget.
Duplicate Assessor Files To Be Discarded. Property Owners Urged to Check Their File For Property Documents.It was reported that the now duplicate property records maintained by former Township assessors would soon be discarded. Recently retired Assessor Bob Taylor, prepared a new property record system and new new assessor Matt Arco maintains most information on computer files only. Some of the existing files contain documents that may be of value to property owners (copies of deeds, etc.) Property owners are urged to stop by the Township Hall this summer to review the contents of their old file.
Lake Eliza Land Trust and Township "Pinery" Recreation/Wellhead Protection Plans Discussed
Perhaps it was the stress of Harborites coping with the long daylight of summer solstice, but for awhile it appeared that folks of good intent and common purpose were at loggerheads as how to go about preserving the public access and use of the "pinery", the lands along the north shore of Lake Eliza and around Long Lake.
The Township earlier this year filed a grant application with the Michigan DNR for funding to permit the acquisition of a key 157 acre parcel owned by Lake Superior Land Company. The Company has announced it's intent to subdivide the tract into about 66, mostly one-acre residential lots. The tract lies adjacent to the Township's about 13 acre pump house and wells parcel, and is situated over the aquifier that the wells tap for the Township's water supply. The area is heavily used by hikers and snow skiers. The $521,000 DNR grant request is currently under review by DNR officials.
The Lake Eliza Land Trust is an effort by a group of local residents to raise funds for the purchase of a nearby parcel along the north shore of Lake Eliza for public park and wetland conservation. This tract, about 2 to 4 acres, is situated between the Lake and the road to the pumphouse and includes the Lake Eliza Dam overlook and the nearby shoreline that contains the DNR's Lake Eliza boat launch facility. The area has been a popular destination foe generations of Harbor residents and visitors.
Don Keith, representing the group attempting to purchase this "Lake Eliza Dam Site" parcel, sought to have the Township Board endorse the Land Trust's efforts, and express it's willingness to accept or acquire title to the property if the Trust were able to purchase it, or raise the funds needed to do so. He further asked that the Township establish an escrow fund where funds donated to the Land Trust could be deposited.
Supervisor Boggio reviewed the history of the Township's efforts to preserve "the Pinery" for public recreation and wellhead protection purposes. He said that the Board had made such acquisition it's priority, and felt that the efforts of the Land Trust, while commendable, were a lower priority and it would not be prudent for the Township to get involved with the effort while the DNR grant application was pending. He suggested that the Lake Eliza Land Trust find another not-for-profit to utilize as its escrow agent and noted that he had contacted Doug Sherk, a Harbor resident and trustee of the Keweenaw Land Trust, about the possibility of that organizations assistance. Doug was present and said he had asked Keweenaw Land Trust officials to review the matter.
Several of us in attendance noted that similarity of intent of the two proposals and that all concerned, Township Board and Lake Eliza Land Trust organizers and contributors alike, should be commended for their efforts to preserve public access and use of these properties. To us the proposals seemed complementary, not competitive.
Following an extended discussion, the Board rejected a resolution offered by Keith and supported by Jeane Olson incorporating the request for Township assistance as outlined earlier by Keith. Clarkson, Johnson and Boggio voted no. The Board then unanimously adopted a resolution indicating the Township would accept title to the propety sought by the Land Trust if they were successful in purchasing it.
On that note, the June meeting was adjourned and all concerned left to enjoy another couple of hours of daylight, on this, the longest day of our year. The sun starts its slow, but certain, trip to the Southern Hemisphere tomorrow.
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