NEMCOG plans river improvements

ALPENA – There are a lot of great features along the Thunder Bay River in Alpena that make it appealing for people to fish, walk or just relax and enjoy the scenery. There is also room for improvements.

During the Alpena Municipal Council meeting on Monday, Northeast Michigan Council of Governments Deputy Director/Planner Rick Deuell shared some details about the new coastal plan for the river. The plan outlines areas where improvements can be made, such as the eradication of invasive plants and making the water more accessible in certain areas. Deuell said the river in Alpena already has a lot of options for things it can be used for and simple tweaks can make it even more user friendly and environmentally healthy.

“I come to Alpena a lot , but never really had the chance to get out and spend time walking around the river front, but I did for this and I tell you I’m really impressed with the work the city has done over the last decade,” Deuell said. “What you have done has sort of reconnected the community to the river. I was also amazed at all of the people I saw using it for different things. What a great asset you have.”

There are many different types of plants on the shoreline, unfortunately there are plants not native to Alpena, which can have an effect on native plants, wildlife and the condition of the shore line. One type of tree can be removed, but returns quickly. Deuell said the plan calls for these trees to be removed permanently.

“There are a lot of very good plants, but intermixed with them are ones that are rough,” Deuell said. “The major culprit are the box elder. Work is done to cut it down to open up a view of the river and it sprouts back up. It also strangles out some of the good vegetation.”

The plan, when complete, will be ratified by the planning commission and the council, but will not lock the city into following it to the letter. Deuell said changes can be made to it as time passes and the needs change.

In other business:

the council approved hiring MacArthur Construction for $390,000 to do water and sewer system work, as well as a full road reconstruction project on Lake Street. The vote to accept the lowest bid was 5-0.

the council passed an ordinance that will change the zoning of property owned by Alpena Community College from residential to general industrial. There is no water, sewer or power available on the land, but the college wants to have it zoned properly in case it desires to develop in the future.

the council voted 5-0 to hire an attorney who specializes in water and sewer rates to lead the negotiations with Alpena township over new rates. The cost can not exceed $10,000 without future approval from the council.

the city approved two union contracts with the police department.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at