The usual cast of local dignitaries was joined by a new face to give an official’s-eye overview of the state of Boyne City.
A packed house of interested onlookers listened as Boyne City Main Street Program Manager Hugh Conklin, Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen (R-District 2), Boyne City Manager Michael Cain, Boyne City Public Schools Superintendent Peter Moss and Mike Sheehan, who is working with a committee on the feasibility of a trail from Boyne City to Boyne Falls.
“I feel fortunate to be standing here because we have great things happening,” said Conklin. “Working together, we are capable of great things. This is not something that should be taken lightly. Communities struggle for all sorts of reasons. Right now it feels like we have the wind at our back.”
He added, “Our challenge is to take advantage of our opportunity and make the most of the good fortune we are enjoying.”
Conklin mentioned the purchase of the historic Dilworth Hotel, the reopening of the Parkside Grill and the announcement that the Grain Train would be opening a store in Boyne City.
Conklin also mentioned historic murals, artistic bike racks and a proposal to turn the Veterans Park pavilion into a multi-use facility which would allow the Boyne City Farmers Market to operate in the park year-round.
Conklin said the historic Boyne Theater, which was offered to Boyne City by its new owner, is still being considered as the city works out details with the owner.
Conklin lauded all the local service clubs and volunteer organizations in the Boyne area.
“In the past year, more than 2,500 hours of volunteer time was donated that resulted in many good things happening in our community,” he said.
Conklin mentioned Stroll the Streets, Boyne Thunder and the SOBO Arts Festival as just a few of the events that help make Boyne City special.
Christensen talked about property values, saying that the 2013 State Equalized Value for Charlevoix County is down 7.4 percent from 2012 and down 25.5 percent since the start of the decline of 2008.
The 2013 taxable value in Charlevoix County is down 2.3 percent from 2012 and down 4.25 percent since the beginning of the decline in 2008.
“Some would argue that the valuations were a little bit skewed but they’re definitely starting to come back into line,” he said. “The average SEV for residential property in Charlevoix County is about $79,600, and the average taxable value for the same property is about $66,790.”
Nearly 40 percent of residential properties are owner occupied and exempt from the homestead taxation. This means nearly 60 percent of all residential properties in Charlevoix County are either second homes, rentals or some other non-homestead property.
Christensen said the county’s budget was down 2.2 percent from last year.
“We’re getting closer to the bone each and every year,” he said…. “We went back to the county department heads and said you need to find ways to cut your budget.”
Christensen said 159 tons were hauled out of recycling in July; in August 155 tons of material were hauled out—that’s a 10 percent increase in recyclables from last year.
“Now we’ve gone to this single stream recycling that we didn’t have before and that is actually saving us $7,000 per month from what we were paying,” he said.
Sheehan discussed the county’s trails currently being planned for construction and gave an update on the Boyne Valley Trailway which would connect Boyne City with Boyne Falls and Boyne Mountain.
“That is in a planning stage with a citizens group and strong support by Boyne Valley Township, Boyne City and Boyne Mountain,” Sheehan said.
The third trail he mentioned was a proposed trail from Charlevoix to Traverse City.
Moss told the audience an African proverb before giving the audience an update on Boyne City Public Schools:
“Every morning a gazelle wakes up it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you better be running.”
“And that’s kind of where we’re at with the schools,” Moss said. “It’s a competitive environment out there. We’re all trying to do the very best for kids that we can and so our staff’s come running.”
Cain said the state of Boyne was “great.”
“No matter how you look at it, year after year, we are getting better and stronger as a community. That’s good for us, that’s good for our region and it’s good for our state,” he said. “Our finances are strong, our equipment is good, our infrastructure is great and our people are solid.”
Cain noted the good job being done by the city’s new police chief—new over a year ago—and announced the city’s new assistant planner in addition to touching on various boons to the city.
“Not so long ago, after much discussion and several votes, the community decided to invest heavily in school buildings and grounds. Our schools continue to invest in our future and one of our greatest resources, our youth, with ground-breaking initiatives like their iPad program,” Cain said. “The Mary Kay Peabody Foundation invested heavily in our community when they basically rebuilt our library. The leadership of our library has continued to build on that investment in their people, resources and facilities and are positioning it for possible future growth to continue to service us well in the future.”
He added, “Charlevoix County has helped improve area roads, expanded recycling opportunities and continues to make progress on trails that will help connect us to the rest of the state and the world.”
Cain also mentioned the city’s Main Street program and the investments it has helped to make in the community.
“And, over the last decade, the city itself has invested tens of millions of dollars all across our community to make sure it is a place were people can and want to live, work and play.,” he said. “You may not think about our wastewater treatment plant, the work we are now doing on our water system or the infrastructure that lies under our streets but we do. And, we know that, by you not having to think about it much, you can focus on living your life and building your business.”
Cain added, “It’s all of these pieces, and many many more, that have helped make Boyne City a place where people want to be. A place that we all can and should be proud of.”
Cain said Boyne City’s boons did not happen overnight.
“They aren’t one-time deals, either. They have taken lots of planning, time and effort to come together into what we have now—a successful community that works,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t anywhere near done, that we haven’t made mistakes where things haven’t worked out quite like we would like them to. But, we have a vision, a goal, for a better Boyne, for the best Boyne we can be, and slowly but surely we are turning that vision into reality.”
Cain added, “Despite all of the investment that has already taken place, I believe that we must continually reinvest in our future. And I am not alone.”