By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
While several topics were broached by city leaders as members of Boyne City’s boards, committees and commissions met on Tuesday Feb. 7, the meeting primarily focused on what to do with the city’s facilities.
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain gave an overview of the city facilities study.
“We’ve had numerous discussion over what we want to do with our facilities,” Cain said.
Cain said the department of public works want to move to the north Boyne site while the fire and EMS wish to remain north of the Boyne River.
The projected cost of building either a public works or fire/EMS is $850,000.
“if we were building either facility … it would leave us with the operating costs of their existing joint facility,” Cain said.
The estimated costs to build all new facilities including city hall would be around $3 million.
“From my perspective as the city’s manager I think our future financial situation, at least at the current time while it may be better than many other communities in the state … remains guarded,” Cain said. “In addition we have lots of other needs and wants around the community in addition to city facilities.”
Cain said he prefers to serve the public rather than upgrading facilities, adding that the current facilities are perfectly functional.
“I think there’s a lot of ways we can use this site,” he said.
Cain said having a concentration of city offices in one location, as it is now, creates numerous efficiencies.
Cain said there is a space issue with the storage of emergency services and public works vehicles.
“There isn’t a piece of city owned property that we didn’t look at,” Cain said. “Where most of the departments wanted to be in the first place … kept coming back to this (current) facility.”
Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch said he wants more feedback from the community on this matter.
“It’s really open for discussion,” he said.
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he wants to move forward but in phases.
Boyne City Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) member Roger Reynolds asked if an appraisal had been completed to determine the value of the current city facilities’ waterfront property.
Cain said the city should not sell any of its lakefront property and, if anything, should acquire more.
“We have not done an appraisal on this property. I have received no direction from the city commission to do anything of that nature and I would be surprised if the city commission gave me such direction,” Cain said.
Reynolds asked Cain how the city could determine the best course of action unless it knows what the property is worth.
“I would agree with you if I ever thought there was an ability that you were going to sell that property,” Cain said.
Reynolds responded: “So you’re pre-assuming that that’s the way it’s going to be and there’s no reason to get all the facts together then?”
Cain said, “Correct … the piece of information that I see as critical is there is no desire to sell that piece of property in the first place, so why spend the time and effort to find out something that doesn’t do you any good.”
Reynolds said if the city knew it was never going to sell its current property, then looking for other facilities and/or spaces was little more than a waste of time.
“I didn’t see the effort with regards to looking at other sites as a waste,” Cain said. “There is always a possibility that we could have moved one or some of our facilities to other locations if the ultimate desire was to have this as a clean site.”
Cain said there hasn’t been a consensus on what should be done with the current facilities.
“We’re still in the fact-gathering stage,” Cain said.
The city is still awaiting results from the soil tests it has had done to determine what, if any, construction could occur on the site.
Barb Brooks opened the recent Boyne City joint work-session by giving a brief summary from the Jan. 12 public input meeting on Boyne City’s goal-setting session.
Brooks said 53 percent of the nearly 60 people who attended the event were newcomers.
“95 percent of the people who took the survey had not come to the goal-setting session itself,” Brooks said. “The majority of the people lived within the city – 70 percent.”
Nearly a quarter – 26 percent – of the people who took the survey own business property within the city.
Brooks said 74 percent of the people surveyed said Boyne City is moving in the right direction.
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said you never really know what the people are thinking until you ask them.
“I found it somewhat encouraging,” Cain said.
The Boyne City Commission will be presented a finalized list of goals at the Feb. 28 meeting.