Gladstone looks ahead to 2014 projects

GLADSTONE – The practice of reflecting upon past accomplishments and setting new goals is a New Year’s tradition for many, and the City of Gladstone is no exception.

One recent accomplishment of the city was the sports park master plan. The plan, which will cost the city $10 million to implement, includes the construction of a new chalet, new summer recreational equipment, and parking upgrades.

“This gave us the preliminary information to begin seeking grants for improvements at the complex,” said Gladstone City Manager Falcon.

Using the information from the plan the city applied for and received a $40,000 Hannahville 2 percent grant for the construction of a reservoir at the ski hill. In addition, the city used funding previously allocated for ski hill upgrades to purchase new snow-making equipment for use with the reservoir.

“With the reservoir we were able to make snow in early December and be open for the full Christmas break. This is the first year in many years that we were able to open this early,” said Falcon.

The city also received a $10,000 grant from the Hannahville Indian Community for a study that may lead to a trail for non-motorized use – such as pedestrian and bicycle users – connecting Gladstone to Escanaba.

Upgrades to the sports park and the study for the proposed trail system weren’t the only actions taken by the city for recreation during 2013. New docks were installed at the Gladstone Harbor replacing the previous dock system that dated back to 1980.

“(The docks were) a much needed improvement to our harbor area. Again, we could not have done this project without the grant funds we received,” said Falcon.

The total cost of rebuilding the harbor was $450,000 with $225,000 coming from a Michigan Waterways Program Grant and $100,000 from the Gladstone Downtown Development Authority. The remaining $250,000 is being provided by user fees.

For those with a culinary flare or simply an interest in supporting locally produced goods the city has made significant changes to its farmer’s market, with more to come.

This year the market moved to a parking lot in the 900 block of Delta Avenue adjacent to the former Front Row Video building. Between a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and $69,740 in local funding, the city plans to transform the location into a gathering place for the community.

The Front Row Video building itself was recently purchased to become the new permanent home of the Gladstone DDA as well as an information and event center. Purchasing and fixing the building is expected to cost the DDA a total of $100,000.

Residents and travelers who are driving in Gladstone can travel safer in 2014 thanks to a signal light installed at the top of South Hill Road in late 2013. The light activates when trains are crossing at the bottom of the hill to alert drivers of train blockages and emergency workers when to take an alternate route.

“We worked on this project for over two years, and finally the signal was installed. Thank you to all the residents that kept feeding me the details of the train blockages. I never gave up on pursuing the signal,” said Falcon.

As the city sets its sights on the future, Falcon has her eyes set on finances.

“For 2014 my focus will be to maintain balanced budgets,” said Falcon, adding the city will also continue to work toward finding solutions to the aging Public Works facility.

Also in 2014 Gladstone will get its moment in the spotlight as the city is featured in a segment on the nationally broadcast television program “Communities of Distinction,” which is hosted by Terry Bradshaw. The city paid $24,800 for the five-minute segment on the show, and film crews visited the city in September.

“This will be one of our major marketing pieces for 2014. Once the production is final, it will be aired 34 times regionally,” said Falcon.

Falcon also hopes that a few more businesses will be constructing facilities in the city in the coming year.

“We have been working with a few potential developments. Hopefully they will be breaking ground in early 2014,” she said.