New playground construction moves forward

ESCANABA – Construction is moving “full steam ahead” on a new playground being built on the southwest side of Escanaba, council was informed at its regular meeting Thursday.

Patt and John Besse of Gladstone recently donated $280,000 to the city to build the new recreation area which will be named the John D. Besse Public Park. Plans call for the project to be completed in time to be dedicated during the Esky 150 Celebration in early July.

During an update to council on Thursday, City Engineer/Public Works Superintendent Bill Farrell said ground was broke at the construction site last week. The top soil was stripped and the brush was cleaned up on the property located on the northeast corner of 8th Avenue South and South 30th Street.

This week’s progress included the placement of footings for the 1,728-square-foot pavilion, added Farrell.

“We’re moving full steam ahead on the park,” he told council.

During council action Thursday, the city entered into a contract with Superior Play Michigan Inc. of Brighton to purchase state-of-the-art playground equipment for the park for approximately $142,370.

Company representative Doug Smith, of Manistique, explained that the equipment will be the first “universally-accessible playground” in the area, meaning it goes beyond the minimum barrier-free status. There is only one other such park in the Upper Peninsula, he said.

In addition to the pavilion, the local park will include four grills, a disc golf course, two volleyball courts, a paved parking lot, picnic tables, benches, a water fountain, and a portable restroom. A concrete walking track will encircle the playground area.

In other business Thursday, City Manager Jim O’Toole updated council on the sale of the city’s power plant to Escanaba Green Energy (EGE).

Reading from a memo from EGE President Charles Detiege, O’Toole said the company has secured funding sources and hopes to provide a sale closing date at the May 8 Electrical Advisory Committee/Council meeting.

Also at the meeting, council conducted a public hearing on establishing an industrial development district on property located at 3712-2716 19th Ave. N. in the White Tail Industrial Park where Bell’s Brewery Inc. plans to build a beer manufacturing and bottling plant.

Vickie Schwab, Delta County Economic Development director, said the new business, its five jobs, and it’s $2.5 million construction project will be “a tremendous asset” to the community as well as the surrounding area.

In other action, council approved the purchase of chemicals for the water and wastewater plants.

Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for May 16.