Tucker: SynSel on-site work years away

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Pat Tucker of Lost Bowl Development LLC gives an update on the SynSel Energy facility proposed for the former Smurfit-Stone Paper mill site.

ONTONAGON — Lost Bowl Development LLC’s Pat Tucker gave clarifications and updates at Monday’s village meeting, coming with a few requests and comments on the proposed SynSel Energy biofuel plant project.

The engineering work was started a few weeks ago with engineers and officials meeting to go over preliminary materials.

“It was a real good meeting, real productive,” Tucker said.

The project is currently scheduled to have two years of engineering work and two of construction, meaning locals won’t see on-site work for a while yet, he explained.

“You’re not going to see activity over there immediately because it’s being engineered right from scratch. It’s the first plant of its type and it’s going to take some time to get there,” Tucker said, assuring residents that just because site work hasn’t started doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

Though the engineering schedule is still being put together, Tucker’s goal is to get six months of the project’s two timelines to overlap so construction can get started earlier.

For the village to look at, Tucker requested the village look into taking over the easement for the abandoned M-64.

“We feel that the village should get that easement from the state, which I believe you can do for industrial purposes at no cost and reopen it as a village street,” Tucker said.

The section runs along the south side of the potential biofuel site and was historically used to service the Economic Development Corporation’s dock. The road is built to class A road standards for heavier trucks so goods would be able to be transported from the dock.

Though there is another more winding route, it can’t handle heavy trucks at the moment and runs through the industrial area.

Another factor is the historical society which transports tours to the lighthouse through the potential biofuel site with permission. Construction could disrupt this setup, Tucker explained.

The roadway also allows access to three gates onto the property.

“We’ll put it on the front burner, not the back burner,” said Village President Ken Waldrop, mentioning putting in a request to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Following his update, Tucker went on to compliment the work of Village Manager Joe Erickson in getting him the data needed by the engineers working on project development.

“Far too often people want to show up here and tell you you’re doing a bad job and a lousy job. They aren’t willing to show up and tell you what a good job you’re doing,” Tucker said.

He objected to personal attacks and accusations being made in meetings and on social media by some residents towards local elected officials. Actions he described as unhelpful, damaging to the village and that have gone too far.

“Most of our boards are made up of well-intentioned caring people that want what’s good for the village and what’s good for our community,” Tucker said.