Trail project delayed

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council will delay a decision on when and how to complete a trail project the city started in 2016.

The council voted unanimously to table a decision to award a $30,145 bid for construction of an estimated 400 feet of trail off of New York Street until its regular meeting on July 12.

If approved by the council in July, the city would be responsible for $20,145 of the cost of the project.

City Manager Mark Slown said one-third of the project cost — $10,000 — will be funded by a Western Marquette County Health Foundation grant.

The city used a $91,400 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to construct a 4,700-foot trail connecting the Iron Ore Heritage Trail to a network of existing trails in the area.

The council voted in February 2016 to amend the MNR grant application — removing approximately 400 feet connecting the trail to New York Street due to concerns that the area would be included in the city’s Rural Development water infrastructure project.

Construction on approximately 4,300 feet of the trail was completed in 2016.

Department of Public Works Director Jon Kangas said that portion of New York Street is no longer considered part of the water infrastructure project, and as a result, the trail should be completed.

“Now we have to build the trail because we promised the DNR we would when we modified our original grant application. What we did is we took the money that was supposed to build the section from Malton Road to New York Street,” Kangas said. “We took that money and put it into pavement for another section of the trail. Now we have to finish our promise.”

Councilman Stu Skauge expressed concerns about fitting an unexpected expense into the city’s tight budget.

“I just have a problem coming up with $20,000 of city money when we have so many needs that are more important, like fix the roads,” Skauge said. “We have so many roads that are in tough shape, so I’m not going to support this.”

GEI Consultant Mark Stoor recommended against delaying the project due to the fact the city is seeking MNR grant funds for other projects, including a large grant request to fund a pavilion for Lake Bancroft Park.

“They had their site visit with us at the Lake Bancroft Park three weeks ago,” Stoor said. “So they are already in the scoring process of that project — and if this item comes up during the review process I can’t say whether or not it would affect it.”

Councilman Karl Lehmann said if the city was obliged to complete the trail he may support the measure in this case, but more information would be helpful.

“That’s where I was going with it. I have had a couple of people say ‘We have better trails than we have roads,'” Lehmann said. “And, ‘When are they going to fix the potholes here?’ and so on and so forth. That is the dilemma we have. We’ve got some tough decisions and sometimes we are going to have to say no.”

Kangas said he could not disagree with the council’s concerns about funding the project.

“I think we all agree 100 percent,” Kangas said. “The problem is — this is a promise we made and we have to keep it, or we jeopardize any potential future funding from the DNR Trust fund and we’ve got a huge grant application in the review process right now.”

The council also:

– Approved a request by the Range Area Mountain Bike Association to use the former Howard Oil site near Malton Road as a trail-head. The council agreed to allow RAMBA to do minimal site improvements such as brush removal, a picnic area, and possible way finding signage.

– Approved an emergency reading of an amendment to the bond ordinance for the upcoming water infrastructure project.

– Approved a special event application for the Goofus Founders Day Reunion in July.

– Approved special dispensation for Brogie’s Tavern to get permission for special events from July through October at the Warehouse Showroom from city department heads if approval from the council is not possible when booking acts for the venue. All other city procedures for special events will be required including the submission of an event application and insurance, Slown said.

– Discussed 2018 goals during a budget workshop.

– Went into closed session to discuss attorney-client privileged communication.

– Approved a memorandum of understanding with the St. Rocco and St. Anthony Society for the construction of a pavilion at Al Quaal for use during Italian Fest.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.