Ontonagon dredge project could be heading to court

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette The dredger at the Ontonagon Marina may end up sitting all summer long if the village decides not pay what it contracted for.

ONTONAGON — While the village has decided as to which engineering firm to hire for a street project, the dredging project is now in the hands of its legal counsel.

At Monday’s council meeting village manager Joe Erickson reported three bids were received for the Pebble Beach Drive project.

Council member John Hamm made the motion to accept the bid from GEI of Iron River, Michigan.

“What I found in their bid is that they will cover any expenses for anything that may not be done correctly,” he said.

The GEI bid was for $15,800. C2AE of Escanaba’s bid was for $13,400, while Coleman Engineering of Ironwood had a bid of $59,865.

While this project was approved, it was the marina dredging project that is not settled and is now in the hands of the attorney, according to council member Tony Smydra.

Through a Freedom of Information request, the dredging project was funded through a Michigan DNR Waterways Grant of $240,910. That grant is 90% of the project, with the village being responsible for the remaining 10%.

However, the dredging company from Lower Michigan, Hilton, is renting the former JJ’s Tackle Shop Building and paying the dredger’s storage fees at the Marina. Those fees are approaching the 10% the village is to pay Hilton.

According to Sue Lockhart, who filed the FOIA, the village’s portion of the project would be $27,146. Hilton has paid the village $28,000 to pay for the place to stay and park the Dredger. Lockhart claims that the village has already received the $240,910.

“The village paid the dredger $88,056 in the first payment,” she reported to the council. “They were to pay the dredger a second payment of $140,000 under the contract. Then the contract called for the third payment of $40,000.

Lockhart stated the information she got with her FOIA request shows the village did pay the first and third payments, but it still owes Hilton $140,000.

No one on the council explained why Hilton has not been paid the remaining funds. Smydra stated that this is now in the hands of the attorney, which suggests the issue is a matter of potential litigation.

Lockhart suggested the village put the $140,000 in an escrow account to make sure the funds will be available for the project.

“Can you imagine what the cost to the village will be if the dredger charges a 1% or 2% fee on the balance that the dredger is due?” Lockhart asked.