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A more walkable Hancock

September 20, 2012
By KURT HAUGLIE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - The members of the Hancock City Council heard an update on the efforts of the city's Bike and Pedestrian Committee to make the community more conducive to non-motorized transportation.

During the city council's regular meeting Wednesday, Ray Sharp, community planning and preparedness manager at the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, who works with the Bike and Pedestrian Committee, said the committee members are working on developing routes in Hancock, which are safe for non-motorized travel.

"They'd like to help you work on your vision to help Hancock become more bike and walker friendly," he said.

Article Photos

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Ray Sharp, community planning and preparedness manager at the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, gives an update to the members of the Hancock City Council about the efforts of the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Committee during the council’s regular meeting Wednesday. Also seen is council member Barry Givens.

The committee members realize there are many Hancock residents who commute to Houghton for work, and vice versa, so finding routes connecting the two cities is part of the committee's efforts, Sharp said.

Committee members are also working on developing a survey of the interests of residents concerning non-motorized travel similar to one used in Houghton recently.

"They did some good mapping on that," he said.

Sharp said committee member Dan Dalquist will take any interested council members on a cycling tour of Hancock so they can get an idea of what's available and what's needed for non-motorized travel.

"It's a good way to get a good look at (the city) at that perspective," Sharp said.

On a related topic, council member John Haeussler asked Sharp if he could come back and give the council an overview on what a Complete Streets ordinance - which would include non-motorized travel routes - would require. He'd also like to know what the benefits and possible negative aspects of establishing such an ordinance would be.

Sharp said establishing an ordinance would be fairly easy because there are many examples to work from, but getting it operating may be more difficult.

"The devil's in the implementation," he said.

However, Sharp did encourage the council members to establish a Complete Streets ordinance.

"I do think it's going to open the door to more funding, or at least put you toward the top," he said.

Sharp's presentation was for council information only. No action was taken.

Before the council's agenda items were addressed, during public comment period, resident Susan Burack spoke of her concern the city may not be ready aesthetically for the 2013 FinnFest, which will be based in Hancock.

"There's a feeling in the city we have a lot of work to do," she said.

Burack said there are many areas of the city where weeds and trash are prevalent, as well as many structures in poor condition.

She and other concerned residents are considering creating a booklet of city ordinances so property owners can know exactly what their responsibilities are, Burack said, and they would like some assistance from the council for printing and postage costs. No action was taken by the council on that request.

Council members voted to give support to efforts of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Gogebic Community College to take over operations of the ski hill at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park after the long-time vendor ended its operation of the hill.

Council member Lisa McKenzie said if an agreement were made, the Ski Area Management program at GCC would operate the ski hill.

"They have tremendous experience," she said.

Mayor William Laitila said the loss of revenue from the ski hill could have a ripple effect in the Copper Country.

"What happens there affects us, too," he said.

Haeussler said the council should write letters to Gov. Rick Snyder, State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba and State Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine to work to get GCC involved with the ski hill.

"Let's give them a nod of support," he said.

Council members voted unanimously to write the letters to the government representatives supporting the continued operation of the ski hill at the park.

In other business, council members:

heard from City Manager Glenn Anderson the city's transit program was recently honored by the Michigan Department of Transportation for 10 years of service. In that 10 years, 166,392 riders have used the city buses. "Every year it's become more popular," he said.

heard from Anderson an update on planning for FinnFest 2013, which he said has been a daunting task for all involved. "This would be the biggest event the area has ever seen," he said.

heard from Anderson the application for $45,000 DNR Passport competitive grant for an upgrade of the dock at Hancock Beach has been submitted. It should be known by November if the application was approved.

heard from Anderson and Haeussler work on the city's sesquicentennial publication is proceeding. Haeussler said more sponsors for the publication are needed. The final product will need to be sent to the printer by the end of December.

approved spending $10,000 for repair of dasher boards at the Laurn Grove outdoor ice rink. Many council members commented on how important the rink has been for the city over the years.

approved reopening the M-203 sledding hill as a snowshoe trail head.



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