Simplifying winter marina access in Ontonagon

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Ontonagon Village Council members support providing winter marina access for residents. From right to left: Trustee Bruce Seid, Treasurer Marcia Aho-Black, President Pro-Tem Elmer Marks, and Trustee Don Chastan.

ONTONAGON — The Village Council is moving forward to ensure marina access in winter for both recreation and safety.

All council members voted in favor of the move Monday, just one month after community member Vicky James proposed it in November. At the time, the suggestion was recommended to the Marina and Recreation Commissions, but has now made its way back to the board.

“I really think it would be a wonderful thing,” James said. “Take into consideration us old folks.”

By plowing the marina parking lot during the winter months, it would be accessible for ice fishing, snowshoers and other winter activities. The Recreation Commission supported plowing at least a path for resident accessibility. The Village Council agreed.

“We are a four-season community and it’s unreasonable for that marina to shut down in winter. People come to our town and see people ice fishing out there. That’s as important as seeing them leave that harbor to go out fishing in the summertime.” said trustee Mike Mogan.

Trustee Tony Smydra strongly advocated for the change.

“If we can get it done through volunteerism, get it done through volunteerism, but, if not, the village can pick it up (the cost),” said Smydra.

Smydra stressed the council was suggesting plowing a pathway, not the entire parking lot, making the access more financially feasible.

Mogan suggested a sign be added warning those risking the ice of its potential hazards. It was repeatedly mentioned that access would be crucial if any accidents occurred, allowing emergency personnel to get into the marina area.

One example occurred just last month when a girl slipped from a boardwalk and was unable to get out of the river. She was saved by an emergency call from a resident who spotted her while walking their dog and quick thinking from a state trooper who was able to get her to the hospital, saving her life.

“It’s very important, that little girl that fell through…without a snow plow, they could have not gotten in there,” said President Pro-Tem Elmer Marks. “She would have died. What is a life worth?”