Speer: A view that’s worth every penny

Those of you who know me well know many weeks I start my mornings along Thunder Bay watching the sun come up.

As I sit in my car sipping the first cup of coffee, in my prayers for the day I thank those Alpena officials who had the foresight to acquire, and leave for the public, places like where I am parked to enjoy such wonderful views.

I like to laugh with those I am interviewing for jobs at the newspaper that “a view of the bay is half the pay.” Literally, that of course isn’t correct. Yet, on mornings that I spend at the water, it’s not too far from the truth.

Thus, when Councilman Shawn Sexton suggested as he did this week that the city seriously investigate waterfront property acquisitions, I pay extra notice.

Municipal council was told two properties have been offered for purchase recently, one a home that obstructs the view at Bay View Park, and the other the Beach Motel in front of Starlite Beach.

Both properties provide officials an interesting opportunity to expand public access and view of the waterfront.

In a newspaper story Friday, City Manager Greg Sundin and Clerk/Treasurer Karen Hebert explained the process and criteria city officials use in determining whether a property should be considered. While Sundin said there is no doubt real estate values are more attractive these days for buyers, conversely because of those lower real estate values, there is less taxes being paid, and less revenue then for city coffers.

I appreciate the effort being made in this process.

While ultimately the city could end up with both, one, or neither, officials are seriously considering the options available to them and whether it makes sense at this time.

While over the years my opinion regarding waterfront development has gone through different stages and opinions, my thoughts on public waterfront acquisition has never wavered – if financially it can be justified, pursue it.

Most decisions have to be made for the present and what is best, and makes most sense, for today and next week.

Other decisions have to be made looking into the future, and what is best for decades long after those making the decisions are no longer in office. Property acquisition most often is a long-term decision, especially waterfront acquisition.

Initially, such a decision might cause some economic disruption to a budget. Ultimately, however, the return on that investment should be, in the words of a popular advertisement these days, “priceless.”

I know I am the beneficiary of some people years ago who had the wisdom, courage and foresight to acquire property along Thunder Bay that today is publicly held and available for each of us to enjoy.

I reap the benefit from their decision, and I’m so appreciative of their efforts.

Someday my grandchildren and great-grandchildren could benefit as well from what city officials do with the proposals before them today. I’ve thought of that a lot this week sitting along the water.

Alpena decision makers have a chance to add to a legacy that will exist long after they’ve left office. It’s an interesting opportunity, albeit one that also has risks.

Which path will officials travel? I’m anxious to find out.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS?(Bill Speer) at www.thealpenanews.com.