Tempers flare over Keweenaw tower contract proposals

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Keweenaw County Board Chairman Don Piche cut off a heated discussion between attorney Chuck Miller and Steven Fitzgerald, ShoreWaves president, that stemmed from a strongly worded email Miller received from Fitzgerald.

EAGLE RIVER — Contract negotiations between ShoreWaves and Keweenaw County became heated at the latest County Board meeting, to a degree which prompted the chairman to cut off debate.

Steven Fitzpatrick, president of ShoreWaves, said he was not happy with the lease agreement he received from the county to maintain equipment on the tower at Mt. Horace Greeley, and expressed his reluctance to sign the agreement without first hashing out some issues he had with the document.

He requested the board appoint two people to join him and Miller to resolve the issues.

Fitzgerald said by the second or third week of January, before the next board meeting, he wanted someone designated to sit down with him to discuss the issues, so his company could move forward.

“You want your money; I want assurance that I can proceed,” he told the board.

Keweenaw County Attorney Chuck Miller responded that the county had received a proposed contract from ShoreWaves last October, which provided for $120 per year, for one year, then renewable up to five times at five times each, or 26 years.

Fitzgerald then replied he did not recall that, but Miller interrupted him by asking if he wanted to see the contract proposal.

“If you say so, I believe you,” Fitzgerald replied, “but that certainly was not what our intent was.”

He said the contract proposal, as he understood it to read, was for one year.

Miller said on Nov. 5, 2018, he sent the lease to ShoreWaves, which had not responded. Included with the contract was the inclusion: “Please let me know if you have comments, questions or concerns about the contract. The contract will be on the Board of Commissioners agenda.”

Commissioner Del Rajala expressed his opinion these issues should not be debated at a public board meeting.

Fitzgerald, Miller contended, claimed he did not know the November meeting was held.

After a heated discussion between Fitzgerald and Miller, County Board Chairman Don Piche cut off the argument by asking Fitzgerald if the emails over which he and Miller could be forwarded to board members. Fitzgerald said he would do it that evening.

The matter is expected to be finalized at the Jan. 16 meeting.