BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, EDITOR
The Boyne City Joint Board and Commission meeting was held on Tuesday Jan. 17, and featured updates from commissions on compensation, election, the historical district, housing, the Main Street program, Team Boyne, parks and recreation, planning, the zoning board of appeals, airport advisory, board of review, the library, city commission, Boyne City Public Schools, and the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce.
Following are highlights of that meeting:
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain kicked off the meeting by reminding department heads that the city’s budget season is just around the corner.
“We’re not looking at any major changes to the budget with regards to income,” Cain said. “There is a little bit more uncertainty this year as we’re going to basically be transitioning at the beginning part of the next fiscal year into the new facility, which we anticipate will be open in July—our goal internally is to be in there and ready to run in advance of July 4.”
Cain then reviewed the city goals, which had been trimmed to three major goals: housing diversity, economic development, and parks and recreation improvements.
Cain said one of the purposes of this joint boards meeting is to ensure major community stakeholders are working together on projects of interest to the city.
Formed in 1997 by ordinance, this commission addresses mayor and city commissioner pay.
The last increase was in 2013, pay was set at $2,500 for commissioners and $3,000 for the mayor.
The commission will meet this year, as it meets on odd years.
The commission is currently looking for a member to replace a member who died.
These two organizations are under the same nine-member board.
Over the course of the last year, the Federal Screw Building in Boyne’s industrial park was purchased by Northern Logistics.
Also, the LDFA’s Tax Increment Financing program is nearing expiration and must be revised and renewed.
This board also noted concerns from some businesses about the lack of workforce housing for employees of businesses like Lexamar.
This board, which oversees the Pearl Street area, meets about three times per year unless someone in that zone is doing remodeling and comes to the board for approval.
By ordinance, this commission regulates construction, demolition, remodeling in this small district.
The historic 417 Boyne Ave. house, which was recently renewed, is the crown jewel in the Historic District.
The Boyne City Historic Commission meets quarterly, and oversees the city’s museum. This board is looking to do new things with the museum, which will have a new home in the city facilities once completed.
Members have been visiting museums throughout Northern Michigan to get ideas on how they set up their displays.
This group oversees Litzenburger Place, a housing development for seniors and disabled adults, 26 rental homes throughout the city, and housing vouchers for families to rent houses not overseen by the housing commission.
Litzenburger Place received a new roof and a physical needs assessment was conducted to determine what shape the complex’s components are in.
The commission also owns Deer Meadows apartments. All the housing units under this commission are full and have waiting lists for spaces. Because of this, the commission is looking to get a nearly eight-acre parcel of property rezoned so more apartments can be built.
The Main Street program’s new executive director is scheduled to begin work this week. The Boyne City Main Street program is going into its 14th year. Some changes made to Main Street programs includes the Main Street Refresh which is designed to ensure Main Street programs are still providing value to their communities.
The Main Street office moved from the old railroad building to the Odd Fellows building. Main Street has numerous successful projects and programs including Boyne Thunder, which only continues to grow.
Plans are in the works to increase space in the marina for 10 additional boats since more than 100 boats currently participate and there isn’t room for any more at this time.
This weekly meeting of local business people and community officials works together to determine needs around the area .
Cain said having people from all sorts of organizations coming together to talk about issues facing the community has been invaluable.
Parks & Recreation
Boyne has numerous parks and recreations projects in the works, including the Open Space, the Boyne on the Water plan, playground renovations, work on the pavilion project, the Trail Town effort, mountain bike trails at Avalanche, signage at Avalanche, and planning on the Boyne Valley Trail.
The parks and recreation commission won grants for things like trails, the dog park and other projects over the last year.
Fundraising for the pavilion is not going as well as the commission had hoped, and two grants sought were turned down.
Locally, approximately $200,000 is being held by the Charlevoix County Community Foundation for when the project moves forward, the USDA grant is nearly $33,000 which would be allocated when the project moves forward, and the Charlevoix County Parks Millage has granted $20,000 once the project moves forward.
The original goal for the project was to raise $750,000.
Cain was asked about the $2.4 million grant approved by the Michigan DNR Trust Fund last year to purchase the Open Space property, which has been estimated to be worth $3.2 million.
“We’re kind of in a limbo state right now,” said Cain, who added that the state has not yet sent any paperwork on the funding.
“One of the next steps for us is going to be getting the appraisal done,” Cain said.
After the property is valued, the city will need to determine how much the grant will cover and how much money will be left to pay by donors and the taxpayers.
“We don’t know if that gap is going to be $1 million or it could be $2 million,” Cain said. “There’s a whole range that it could be depending on how well that appraisal comes out for us.”
Cain said said there are a few incorrect notions which need to be dispelled concerning the property.
“Because of the lease that we have on the property, a lot of people in town think we already have it,” he said. “They think it’s already a public park, that the deal’s done. Or, they think that the owners of the property have given that property to the City of Boyne City—they’ve given us the opportunity to let us pay for it exactly what they paid for it. They’re not looking to make any money on it.”
Cain said it could be challenging to ask voters for another millage to pay for the open space with the new city facilities millage being levied.
The commission has had several zoning requests before it over the last year—two of the major ones involve potential housing projects.
In addition, planners have been looking at parts of the ordinance to see if they might need to be altered to allow more flexibility in the development of housing.
Planners are also considering the standards on group child daycare facilities, as the requirements seem to be too stringent.
The issue of medical marijuana dispensaries is also on the horizon which planners believe should be discussed. The law does not take effect until the end of 2017.
The Boyne District Library continues to grow. It is open 64 hours per week, more than any other library in Northern Michigan. In addition to the 55,000 piece collection of books and electronic materials the library has to offer, it has a business resource center, meeting space, help with genealogy, and much more.
Last year, the library had over 80,000 visits.
Boyne City Police
The Boyne City Police Department continues to push the importance of its core values with officers and the community. The department has participated in several community outreach events, including Coffee with a Cop, which allows community members to talk with police about issues that matter to them.
The police department also works closely with the schools to help maintain good relations with students and school officials.
A new bike for the city’s bike officer has been donated to the city.
Last year, the police department handled over 4,000 calls for service.
The Boyne police also have a new defensive tactics instructor.
The police department was planning to hire a new officer, who they hope will be hired and ready to go by March.
The department generally has seven full-time and two part-time officers.