Panel streamlines procedures for the sale of city property

Negaunee City Councilman Jason Wallner, center, discusses a change in policy governing the sale of city land during the Negaunee City Council meeting on Thursday as Council members Jim Kantola, left and Paul Maino look on. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

NEGAUNEE — Long-awaited City Manager Nate Heffron will start work on Monday, but it was business as usual at the regular Negaunee City Council meeting on Thursday.

The council approved a change in policy that will streamline the process of selling city property.

Council members voted unanimously to amend the current policy governing disposal of assets — real property, specifically regarding the contiguous property owner’s right of refusal.

The amended policy will give contiguous landowners a 60-day window in which to accept or refuse the opportunity to purchase city property before the city either accepts an offer from an existing purchaser or markets the property for sale.

The previous policy lacked any time-frame requirement, City Attorney Jeremy Pickens said.

“We recognized that this policy was a bit cumbersome and it gave the individuals who are neighbors of the property to be disposed of the ability to hold up the process indefinitely,” Pickens said. “If the neighbor doesn’t respond, then the property can’t be disposed of according to the (previous) policy.”

Councilman Jason Wallner, who suggested the 60-day window, said the policy will now accommodate everyone.

“We have a number of folks that are snowbirds, that may or may not forward their mail,” Wallner said. “How would that play in if we hear that the resident’s gone. How do we handle that?”

He said the action taken at the meeting would help to simplify the 12-step process of disposing of city property.

“We looked at disposing of real property … last fall, in order to do that we recognized that we had a system that needs to be looked at,” Wallner said. “So I appreciate that we looked at this and are identifying areas where we can streamline the process.”

The council also discussed a proposed pavilion at Jackson Mine Park.

Mayor Don Gladwell said the city was informed in December that it had been recommended to receive a $291,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, and that the Negaunee Parks and Recreation Committee hopes to break ground on the project in 2020.

The council approved a resolution committing $194,100 in matching funds for the grant in March.

The matching funds consist of $90,600 in city force labor and in-kind materials, $8,500 from the Negaunee Community Fund, $70,000 from the Cliffs Lundin Foundation and $25,000 pledged from the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, according to March 9 meeting minutes.

“We already have the monies in hand for our match,” Gladwell said. “I want to thank the committee members. These gentlemen have been putting a lot of time into it, and (they) are going to go out and try to get more money.”

In addition to the pavilion — which will provide restrooms and serve as a gathering place for community activities including festivals, family events and educational programs — the improvements will include barrier-free access to the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, educational and navigational signage, additional parking, storm water management, LED lighting and improved traffic flow to enhance pedestrian safety.

Gladwell said ultimately the park should become an asset to the whole community.

“The goal here is to make this pavilion, not just a facility to use from a trailhead standpoint, but to actually put a kitchen in there in phase two of the project at some point,” Gladwell said. “We are fortunate to have the first step done.”

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

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