2018-02-10 / News

City Duplex, Tourism Bureau Expected To Be Ready by Spring

By Jacob A. Ball

The crew from M.P. Gamble Construction of St. Ignace (from left) Mike Gamble, Jr., Jack Perault, and Lawrence “Yogi” Gugin, constructing the frame of the new Tourism Bureau information booth and office Wednesday, January 10. The crew from M.P. Gamble Construction of St. Ignace (from left) Mike Gamble, Jr., Jack Perault, and Lawrence “Yogi” Gugin, constructing the frame of the new Tourism Bureau information booth and office Wednesday, January 10. Completion of work for the city duplex at Surrey Hill remains on schedule, and the Mackinac Island City Council has approved rent fees of $500 for the one-bedroom unit, and $700 for the two bedroom unit. Representatives of the City of Mackinac Island met to discuss the details of the property’s lease agreements at a Building and Grounds Committee meeting Wednesday, January 10. No final decisions were made by the committee, but many of the details were tentatively agreed upon. The rental housing is to be reserved for city employees and elected officials who do not already own a home on Mackinac Island. It is expected to be available for tenants by April, but Mayor Margaret Doud said that timeline could de delayed into early May, depending on the weather.

The house once belonged to Kay Hoppenrath and was donated to the city by Andrew Doud and Bob Benser, who are building a hotel on the Market Street lot it once sat on. The city has budgeted up to $238,000 to move and renovate the house.

Electricity has been connected to house, new siding and roofing is completed, and renovation of the interior of the home has begun. So far, new drywall and electric service panels have been installed on the interior, and renovation of the two-bedroom unit’s bathroom has been largely completed. Further work, including additional bathroom fixtures for both units, must be completed before the duplex is ready for occupants.

During the meeting, the committee discussed the cost of rent, installation of a septic and drain field, and policies related to eviction, pets, grounds keeping, and utilities. Public Works Director Mike Olson inquired about reserving one unit for an additional DPW employee, but the committee did not express much interest in this arrangement. The members also settled on an official name for the property, the Surrey Duplex.

At the duplex, the price of rent is not intended to yield profits, but to make housing available that is affordable by city employees. The council-approved rates of $500 per month for the onebedroom unit, and $700 per month for the two-bedroom were based on the recommendations of the committee. These rates will only apply for the first year of the lease agreements, and after that, the council will revisit the fees to determine if they are fair to both parties.

Councilor Anneke Myers was supportive of these rent prices, because city employees do not typically earn enough to afford much more than that, and tenants are expected to pay at least some of their utilities. Concerns about the cost of the relocation and renovation of the home led to setting the prices for only the first year, as Mrs. Myers said they should be revisited next winter.

Rent will not include the cost of electricity, but it has yet to be determined how billing will be handled for water service. Two water meters could be installed to allow the city to properly monitor water use in each apartment. Water service for the Surrey Duplex has been hooked up.

A major hurdle to the completion of the project by early spring is the installation of a septic tank and drain field. Belonga Excavating originally asked to install the tank in October 2017, but the request was denied and now the excavating company is busy working on installation of water and sewer lines at Hedgecliffe. Once the frost penetrates deep into the soil, it is impossible to dig a hole for the tank without the use of ground heaters, which means the installation would have to wait until spring. The city hoped the project could be squeezed in before the freeze, but the costs of employing heaters are prohibitive.

Several policies were outlined for further consideration by the city council. City employees living at St. Martin’s Place are not allowed to keep a pet, however, the committee agreed that tenants should be allowed to have one pet in each unit at Surrey Duplex. A monthly surcharge or a deposit will be required to cover any damages that an animal might inflict.

Dividing responsibility for maintaining the yard and grounds will be decided by the tenants. Committee member Andy Mc- Greevy questioned how this would be done efficiently to ensure that the property does not become an eyesore. In response, Mayor Doud suggested levying a fee for city foreman Mike Ruddle to mow the lawn and maintain the grounds. City Clerk Danielle Wightman, who has expressed interest in leasing one of the units, said she would prefer to take care of the yard herself. The committee agreed that snow removal would be the responsibility of the tenants, as well.

The committee also proposes that terminated city employees or elected officials who are voted out of office will be given 30 days to move out.

The application and selection process for the units was not decided, but will be addressed in the near future. A second individual has expressed interest in leasing

one of the units.

New Tourism Bureau Building

Another new building, the Tourism Bureau office, is expected to be finished by April 15. It is an intricate building, says Executive Director Tim Hygh, even though it is small. Since the week of Sunday, January 7, the crew from M.P. Gamble Construction, Mike Gamble, Jr., construction foreman Jack Perault, and Lawrence “Yogi” Gugin, made good progress constructing the frame for both stories of the new building. There was expected to be a revision submitted to the city, but it has been withdrawn. The requested change would have been for a rear entrance and a sidewalk connecting it to the adjacent pedestrian walkway. Mr. Hygh said, instead, a closet would be constructed under the staircase at the rear of the building to house the building’s utilities.

Other construction companies involved in the project are Alexander Electric, Winberg Masonry, Belonga Plumbing, and Belonga Excavating. Marine freight was donated by Arnold Freight Company.

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