Board looks at county park issues

ESCANABA – The Delta County Board of Commissioners addressed issues relating to the county park system at Tuesday’s county board meeting.

One of these issues revolves around electrical upgrades made to Fuller Park.

According to Delta Conservation District Executive Director Rory Mattson, in order for electrical upgrades to take place the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) said the park needed an underground line to be installed at the approximate cost of $3,000. Once installed, the park would be billed for the power used there.

Mattson said UPPCO subcontracted the work out to a private company, but when the company came, they cut through the park’s water lines when trenching in their line, resulting in $6,000 worth of damage.

“We figured UPPCO then would be responsible, so we got a hold of UPPCO,” said Mattson. They, in turn, forwarded the issue to the legal department, which told park officials to talk to the general contractor.

Because these two parties did not see eye to eye, Mattson suggested the board take legal action.

“I think we should file a small claims, both against UPPCO and the general contractor and see what we get,” said Mattson, noting they could potentially be awarded $5,000 in court.

The board unanimously approved going to small claims court, authorizing Administrator Nora Viau to represent the county.

The board also approved the sale of Fish Dam Park property located in Garden Township following months of negotiations with an individual whose home was partially constructed on county property.

After having 17 acres of land appraised at $19,000 the homeowner offered the county $12,000 to purchase the 17 acres of county land. The board approved the sale of the property for $12,000 while also allowing up to two “splits,” which essentially allow splitting the property into smaller parcels to sell.

The board approved the measure in a 3 to 1 vote with Commissioner Dave Rivard opposed. Board Chairman Tom Elegeert was absent from the meeting. Rivard had originally requested the county’s offer to the individual be withdrawn since the county gave him several opportunities to purchase the land and even dropped its asking price. However this motion was defeated.

Mattson also noted an issue the parks were having with Charter for providing television service in the county’s campgrounds.

According to Mattson, Charter informed the parks in May it would be converting to digital service. He later found out this meant essentially 100 camp sites would require having black boxes installed for the service.

However, Charter would charge the parks $125 per box if the boxes needed to be replaced.

He also learned the cost for TV services would also increase from approximately $3,000 a year to $13,000 a year.

“We have a five-year contract and we’re in our third year of the contract,” said Mattson. “We did check with your (the county’s) attorney. He figures they breached the contract. According to them though, they don’t feel it’s a breach of the contract because they should just be able to do this.”

Mattson said the TV service has since been canceled and parks officials will begin looking at alternative options.

In other business, the board:

– heard concerns from several Garden Township residents regarding the Garden Wind Farm on the Garden Peninsula. A group of residents has submitted a proposal to the county’s Planning Commission to amend their current zoning ordinance, which is aimed to address quality of life issues, value of property, and wildlife issues.

– accepted a letter to be sent to the Office of Aviation Analysis USDOT recommending SkyWest Airlines provide direct air service from the Delta County Airport to the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport through the Essential Air Service program. According to Airport Manager Kelly Smith, under this arrangement, there would be no change to current service, as SkyWest would continue offering 12 flights a week via CRJ200 air service. Smith said following the meeting the Delta County Airport is currently served by Delta Airlines being operated by Endeavor Air. Should the FAA approve SkyWest Airlines to serve the Delta County Airport, the only major change is the company signing the EAS contract would change from Delta Airlines to SkyWest.