City, DDA look at future

MANISTIQUE – The Manistique City Council and Downtown Development Authority have joined forces to reflect on accomplishments, evaluate current projects, and set goals for the community.

“The DDA started out in 2006 having these goal setting sessions, and they started having them off site because people just felt more comfortable meeting around the table,” said City Manager Sheila Aldrich.

While it has been a few years since the last DDA goal setting session, the city and DDA decided that hosting a joint session would be beneficial for both groups. Thursday’s meeting involved roughly 30 people, including DDA officials and the city council, and was held at the Manistique Comfort Inn.

A goal setting session began at 10 a.m. but the city council, DDA, and interested residents were still working on setting goals well into the afternoon hours.

“(The conversation would) be something you’d think would be two or three minutes, but sometimes it would go into a half hour or more,” said Aldrich, noting the session’s attendees spent a quite a bit of time addressing the issue of blight in the city.

The beginning of the meeting featured a presentation from Jen Tucker of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority on programs that are available through MSHDA for blight elimination and building repurposing. The city and DDA intend to look into these programs further to address some of the city’s blight issues, which include burned out buildings and buildings that need repurposing.

The group also discussed the marketing efforts in the city. Currently the city has four billboards in place in areas surrounding the city. Two of the billboards feature Kitchi-iti-Kipi and the phrase “Ride the raft” and two feature the Manistique boardwalk with the phrase “Walk the walk.” The city is also working with the Pure Michigan campaign to develop a commercial for Manistique.

Lands acquisition grants were also a major topic for the group as the city discussed the future use of land that the city has acquired or is in the process of acquiring. One of these properties is a 23 acre parcel on Traders Point Drive along Lake Michigan that the city has acquired.

“The DDA has been thinking about a campground, and we’ve had an engineer draw up preliminaries,” said Aldrich.

The city is also in the process of acquiring more land along the Manistique River. The land will be used to extend the Manistique Boardwalk to create a roughly four-mile loop for pedestrians and bicyclists. A non-motorized trail group – consisting of representatives of the health department, Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, the Schoolcraft County Chamber of Commerce, and private citizens – is collaborating with the city on the project and working to gather funding.

The group at the goal setting session was also updated on the Manistique Marina Project, which is now moving into phase three. This phase includes placing the floating docks and building walls in the harbor.

“I think it was very productive,” said Aldrich of the goal setting session. “People know their ideas are being heard, which is important.”

This city hopes to made the joint goal setting sessions an annual occurrence and to encourage more public participation.

In addition to discussing past, current, and future projects in the city, the meeting served as an opportunity to introduce the city’s new assessor, Susan Bovan, to the council and community members. Bovan was formerly the city appraiser for the City of Marquette.