2018-06-09 / News

Transportation Authority, Improved IT Network, New Tasers Considered

By Stephanie Fortino

The Mackinac Island City Council will consider establishing a Transportation Authority again, an effort tasked to the city’s Transportation Committee. City Councilmember Andrew McGreevy suggested the city resume consideration of a transit authority, which would function as a separate board. A transportation authority would not be difficult to establish and would have the ability to assess taxes, city attorney Tom Evashevski said at the City Council meeting Wednesday, June 6.

The meeting was held the day before the city was due in Traverse City for the Coal Dock mediation, which is intended to settle the ownership disputes there. The city wants to take control of the Coal Dock for a municipal freight dock.

The council also endorsed a plan to install a new IT network and server for the city and Department of Public Works. Once the new server is installed at the city complex on Market Street, a plan to improve the network servicing the DPW’s remote sites will be considered. The police department will also receive five new Tasers, Mackinac Marine Rescue was made its own city department, the lease at St. Martin’s place was updated, and various other applications and permits were approved.

Mayor Margaret Doud will attend the Coal Dock mediation with Mr. Evashevski and the city’s Lansing attorney, Michael Cavanaugh.

The Transportation Committee will investigate creating a transportation authority, which could possibly oversee winter ferry boat, airplane services, and city-controlled freight operations at the Coal Dock. Mr. McGreevy chairs the committee and Anneke Myers and Dennis Bradley are the other members.

While a transportation authority may not be hard to create, Mayor Doud urged the council to think carefully about the project.

“We need to understand what we’re creating,” she cautioned.

She said informational presentations should be made by the committee to the full council.

IT Network Improvements

The city council has asked Empiric Solution of Petoskey to write a contract for installing the new computer server. The city and the Department of Public Works will share the expected $67,000 cost to install and set up the server, which the two entities will share.

The city’s new IT Committee, which is comprised of Allen Burt, Tom Corrigan, Sam Barnwell, and Mike Olson, is overseeing the project. At the Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, June 5, Mr. Barnwell suggested Mayor Doud add two more community members, including someone from city council and law enforcement.

The new server is needed to update and improve the city’s computer system, making it more current and safe from cyber attacks. The committee oversaw this winter’s study of the IT system, which was also completed by Emperic Solution.

With a signed contract, equipment will take about four weeks to get here and another four weeks to be installed.

The DPW wants to use the network for new water meter software and extend it to its sewer lift stations, wastewater treatment plant, and water filtration plant. Upgrades could require fiber optic cable installation, which would be done at DPW expense.

At the city council meeting, Steve Moskwa, who also chairs the DPW, said the upgrades are greatly needed.

“We cannot continue with what we have,” he said. “It’s time we enter the 21st Century.”

New Tasers

The city council also approved five new Tasers for the Mackinac Island Police Department. The police department has two Tasers it obtained in 2011 and which are nearing the end of their life.

The five Tasers will be carried for each year-around police officer, but during the summer season they will be kept at the police department and made available to the seasonal officers. Each officer having their own Taser will help the officers be more prepared, Police Chief Lawrence Horn said, as the devices offer a better alternative to incapacitating people in crowded areas than firearms. Even simply drawing the devices can help ease tension and deescalate instances.

Finance Committee Chair Mrs. Myers asked Chief Horn to update the department’s Taser policy, which could be done soon, he said. Mrs. Myers also noted that she voted against the city’s first purchase of Tasers in 2011 because there was no usage policy for the devices in place.

The five new Tasers will cost about $6,800, and the department will also receive extra charges that can be used for practice sessions. The Finance Committee recommended the purchase, which city council approved.

Other Business

Mackinac Marine Rescue is now its own city department. The emergency boat crew will be led by a commander, who will be appointed by Mayor Doud. The new department was approved unanimously. The department was previously part of the fire department. The commander will report to the city council, like the other department heads.

Following another recommendation from the Finance Committee, the city council also amended the lease for the St. Martin (old medical center) building on Market Street, where the seasonal police officers stay during the summer season. Before the lease was amended, the city required a $150 non-refundable cleaning fee to help cover the labor of cleaning the apartments at the end of the season. The cleaning fee was changed to a security deposit that could be returned at the end of the season, if the tenants clean the apartment before they leave.

In the past, there have been issues with the condition of the St. Martin building at the end of the season, and with tenants using empty rooms at the end of the season to house visitors. To address the concerns at the building, Chief Horn has met with each seasonal officer individually about the apartment. He will also do spot inspections of the apartments, with advanced notice, to check on the conditions of the apartments throughout the summer. The chief has also agreed to inspect the apartments at the end of the season and will determine whether the security deposit should be returned.

On the recommendation of the Historic District Commission, the City Council also approved a resolution supporting the reinstatement of the Michigan Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.

The freight and trash service contract with Mackinac Island Service Company was renewed. The company charges the city $18,198 to pick up trash from the street containers, pubic restrooms, and behind city hall; remove and dispose of manure collected from city street sweeping; and haul freight and supplies for some city departments. The contract lasts from May 1 to November 1.

Gault Race Management was also approved to host the Lilac Festival 10k footrace Saturday morning, June 10.

The city council also renewed a business license for the Michilimackinac Historical Society’s exhibit and gift shop on Market Street, the McKenney and Hall Collection. An off-Island business license was approved for Bunker Construction. And two new business licenses were approved for The Beanery Paint and Perk at the old J.L. Beanery location and Chase Osborne’s new blacksmith gift shop, Forge a Memory.

Mackinac Axe was granted a temporary motor vehicle permit to use a man lift to remove a dead tree in Great Turtle Park.

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