Trustees to consider authority for US-23 South

ALPENA TOWNSHIP – After hearing a request from business owners along US-23 South, the Alpena Township Board of Trustees will consider forming a corridor improvement authority.

Trustees unanimously approved a resolution Monday to take the request to form an authority under advisement, educate themselves on what these authorities are and consider whether to form one. They opted not to pass a resolution Larry Clark, Hal Neiman, Brian Winter and Bob Young asked them to pass. Instead, the township will consider if it can form an authority that works well for both the township and the corridor’s advocates.

The four are part of an unofficial group of south corridor residents and business owners who want to see improvements to the road, and the homes and businesses along it. Clark told trustees during public comments about the group’s recent efforts, including tree removal, painting fire hydrants and painting trim on buildings.

Later in the meeting, Neiman laid out a vision for the road as a gateway to Alpena and to northern Michigan. Along with continuing to paint, pick up trash and make improvements to buildings along the road, Neiman said future changes could address the high number of driveways. Another possibility would be creating a place where drivers could stop and look over Squaw Bay, complete with interpretive signage and a sculpture.

“We’re beginning to see some pride in the South Bay Corridor,” Neiman said. “As a matter of fact, we’re starting to see some signs coming up there showing that.”

Township Supervisor Marie Twite said she wasn’t comfortable with some of the language in a draft resolution presented by the group. Neiman stressed it wasn’t a formal commitment and didn’t actually form a corridor improvement authority, but showed the township was officially interested in doing so.

“I don’t know how it’ll end, but I know if we work together and put our efforts together we can answer all the questions that come up,” he said.

One such question would be funding. Trustee Matt Dunckel said he was concerned the authority could end up taking money away from an already cash-strapped township, especially if it were funded through tax increment financing.

While using tax increment financing had been discussed before, it’s only one possibility and would only be pursued if it worked for the corridor improvement authority and the township, Neiman said. Young said financing the authority hadn’t been discussed Monday because there are many options for doing so and the issue can be addressed later. Rather, they wanted a concrete sign of commitment from the township to give the group the ability to explore grants, and to give them a toehold with nonprofits and government agencies.

Any corridor improvement authority member would be appointed by the township, Winter said. A township official also likely would serve, as would interested private business owners and residents at large. The original group started as, and still is, an informal gathering of concerned residents and business owners who meet to coordinate and execute small improvement projects. Being an informal group, they don’t have the clout with agencies and organizations that an official authority would.

After the vote, Neiman said he was excited with the decision, and hoped the south corridor could some day serve as an impressive entryway for Alpena.

In other business:

* the township will put $2,200 toward a $6,600 project to add fill to a 550-foot section of Boilore Road east of Truckey Road. A letter from the road commission states that while the road is seasonal, large holes prevent property owners from reaching their property. Road commission crews will use pit run topped with gravel to fix the problem spot.

* trustees approved spending $2,000 apiece to flush, clean and inspect its three water towers. Department of Public Works Director Jerry Bleau said the towers need a five-year inspection and the money should be in his maintenance budget. They also approved Bleau’s proposal to switch from providing uniforms for $589 per person, per year, and instead provide safety T-shirts with lettering and safety jacket with other items. He can provide these for about $900 annually for all of his three employees.

* the township fire department will buy two carbon monoxide detectors for $850 in total, and trustees approved allowing Twite to rehire Mike Amlotte, a former department member who moved back into the area. Twite also donated a Sunline Trailer to the fire department to be used as either a command center or smoke house.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.