Nearly 40 people of Boyne City’s 3,700 residents helped choose the area’s top goals for the next two years during the biennial Boyne City Goal-Setting Session.
Among those benchmarks thought to be most important to the community were to maintain and improve city streets and other infrastructure, to attract and retain jobs, to encourage the reuse and redevelopment of existing structures, to ensure the sustainability of local Emergency Medical Services, to improve and expand the city’s marina and to improve city parks among numerous other goals.
“Our purpose is the same as what we’ve done in the past,” said Dean Solomon of the MSU Extension Office in Boyne City. He was one of two meeting facilitators—the other being Andy Hayes of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance. “It is to learn from citizens from Boyne City and the surrounding areas a little more about the top issues and opportunities for the next couple of years.”
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain gave a brief report on Boyne City’s progress throughout the community over the past few years.
“I look back at what happened when I first came here in 2002 and went to my first one of these meetings, all the transformations that have taken place in this community,” he said. “The roads that are paved that weren’t paved before, that have curb and gutter that didn’t have curb and gutter before … people from other communities come in and are impressed by out water system; stuff that we kind of take for granted or don’t even see after awhile—and all that while now having the lowest tax rate that we’ve had in well over 30 years.”
Cain added, “There’s a lot of things that go right in this community, and it’s because of people like you coming and spending time with us to grade us on what we’ve done in the past and help us set the priorities because, as a community, I think we make progress because we can stay focused on certain items and don’t get distracted.”
Cain addressed each of the pre-existing goals in reverse order, beginning with number 15.
• A sub-committee has been formed to research a potential dog park in Boyne City.
• Boyne City has supported the Boyne City-Charlevoix Road Trail project and is also supportive of a trail from Boyne City to Boyne Falls.
• The city has sent out requests for design proposals on its city facilities complex.
• Preliminary discussions with cities that do curb-side recycling have occurred and the matter is being looked into further.
• The Boyne Avenue entrance could be enhanced by improvements to the White building and the Dilworth Hotel. Also, new trees have been planted near the cemetery in town.
• City parks are being addressed through the dog park discussions and the plan to improve the Veterans Park pavilion. Sprinklers have also been installed in Sunset Park.
• The city has worked with manufacturing companies to bring jobs to the city. The city and its local economic development partners have also worked with the schools to develop manufacturing classes and a mobile training lab.
• The city has hired an assessor to assess property values and, Cain said, the assessments are all being updated.
• Streets that have been improved over the last two years include Hannah, South Park and Douglas Streets. Also, a study has been completed to determine the cost of paving some gravel roads in the area.
• The city has had little to do with broadband and wireless development in the area but an internet hot-spot has been created in Veterans Park in combination with the city marina and farmers market.
• Since the last meeting, how the city charges fees for EMS services has been restructured. Also, the partnership with Boyne Valley Township has combined the two EMS systems to create efficiencies.
• The city marina has been dredged—paid for by a $160,000 state grant; some repairs to existing docks have been completed and bids are out to completely refurbished all the fixed piers by the lighthouse and the city has its permit applications in place for expansion.
• Properties identified for possible reuse include the Dilworth Hotel, Parkside restaurant, Devlon’s Boyne Beach Club site and South Lake Street. Both the Dilworth and Parkside have been purchased, and there are efforts to look at South Lake Street. Efforts to redevelop the Boyne Theater have also been a priority, with the Boyne City Main Street Program heading up research into that proposal.
• Cain said various local groups like Main Street and Team Boyne have been working to help local businesses continue in their success.
• Attracting and retaining jobs, Cain said, has been addressed in the city’s efforts to entice manufacturing facilities to set up shop in Boyne City or to stay here instead of moving to another location. One of the major reasons for several businesses’ decision to expand or stay in Boyne was the approval of tax abatement contingent on plans to expand and hire additional workers in the future.
MAKE-UP OF THE MEETING
Following Cain’s presentation, the 40 people—not including facilitators and media representatives—opined on old and potential new goals.
The majority of those giving input during the meeting were from Boyne City.
Nearly 25 percent of those in attendance were local business owners.
Approximately 75 percent of those in attendance had also participated in past goal-setting sessions.
Progress on the top 15 goals chosen in 2012 were graded during the session by those in attendance. Following are the goals with their respective grades:
1. Attract and retain family-supporting jobs—B
2. Promote high-quality, balanced and sustainable community—B
3. Encourage the redevelopment or reuse of sites and structures in town—B
4. Improve and expand the city marina—B
5. Ensure EMS sustainability—B
6. Encourage and/or develop broadband and wireless network systems—C
7. Maintain street and infrastructure maintenance and improvement programs—A
8. Review property assessments—B
9. Increase technology training partnerships—B
10. Improve city parks—B
11. Improve Boyne Avenue entrance to community—C
12. Provide curb-side recycling—C
13. Improve city complex—C
14. Develop and promote snowmobile and other trails to and through town—C
15. Become a more pet-friendly community—C+
Participants in this year’s goal-setting session were also asked to share their ideas of issues that should be addressed within each of the goals. Following are some of the ideas proffered during this year’s meeting:
Focus on the block from Ray to Main street and Lake to Park street
Continue development on the farmers market facility
Encourage a more workable community by providing seating areas throughout
Make the area more “green” with a local power plant
Start a barter club
Create programs for young people
Compile statistics on the state of the community’s well-being
Lessen the environmental footprint
Develop dark sky zoning
Redevelop the Boyne Theater
Become a more child-friendly community
Pedestrian-friendly downtown—traffic is too fast
IMPORTANCE OF GOALS
Participants were then asked to rate how importantly their stated goals needed to be addressed in the coming two years.
For example, the goal to attract and retain family-supporting jobs was rated on a scale of 1 to 7 with the numeral one standing for “not at all” important and the numeral seven being “very, very” important. The most popular choice was the numeral five—which was marked as “a lot”—which received fifty-one percent of the votes. The mean rating was 4.82.
The average ratings of the following goals, which included some new goals, were as follows:
Promote high-quality, balanced and sustainable community—4.62
Encourage the redevelopment or reuse of sites and structures in town—4.58
Improve and expand the city marina—4.3
Ensure EMS sustainability—4.4
Encourage and/or develop broadband and wireless network systems—3.74
Maintain street and infrastructure maintenance and improvement programs—4.3
Review property assessments—2.7
Increase technology training partnerships—4.00
Improve city parks—4.77
Improve Boyne Avenue entrance to community—4.38
Provide curb-side recycling—3.2
Improve city complex—4.36
Develop and promote snowmobile and other trails to and through town—4.13
Become a more pet-friendly community—2.79
Hospitality/new ways to welcome families/visitors—3.7
Crisis support network, originally labeled as “Victims care unit”—2.85
Affordable housing for families—4.82
More opportunities for kids—4.35
Once all the data is organized it will be presented to the Boyne City Commission.