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Houghton plans open house for parking deck future

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Mary Kaminski addressed the Houghton City Council about the proposed Verna Mize Triathlon in June. On Wednesday, after the council discussed parking, she proposed holding another triathalon during the winter months.

HOUGHTON — Houghton will host an open house 5:30 p.m. Sept. 29 to let the public weigh in on what they want to see happen with the Lakeshore Drive parking deck area.

The Houghton City Council formally set the date of the open house Wednesday night. The location and format have yet to be determined. City Manager Eric Waara said it will not take place at the City Center due to lack of space.

“We don’t know if there’s going to be eight people or 80 people,” he said.

In July, the council voted to begin planning for tearing down the deck and also for developing the process to decide on what replaces it — potentially including another deck.

The city had conducted negotiations with Marquette-based The Veridea Group for a year and a half over the potential sale of the property for mixed-use development before Veridea withdrew from negotiations in January.

A subcommittee formed to explore the parking deck issue subsequently recommended the deck come down, which was echoed by the Planning Commission and City Council. The deck, built in 1978, has required numerous repairs over the past decade.

The council also approved a one-year extension of its five-year contract for trash collection and curbside single-stream recycling with Waste Management. The extension will have a 4% escalator, up from the 3% in place previously.

“There’s so many things in flux right now as far as the downtown and business and hotels and the parking deck and everything else, a year from now we may have a better idea if we want to change some service,” Waara said.

A public hearing was set for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22 on a USDA Rural Development grant for a police car. The grant would cover $25,700 of the $46,870 cost, with city funds making up the rest.

The city also set dates for fall cleanup. Residents can drop off items at the Department of Public Works garage on Technical Avenue and Gundlach Road on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during October. Wood, brick and metal are accepted.

Yard debris dropoff is also accepted on the east side of the DPW salt storage building until November, weather permitting.

The public works crew will also collect yard debris and items accepted at the drop-off dumpsters for senior citizens and handicapped people living in a single-family home in the city. Those collection dates are Oct. 15 and Oct. 29.

During public comment, Mary Kaminski, who recently organized August’s inaugural Verna Mize triathlon, discussed holding another triathlon in the winter. The city will explore the idea, Waara said.

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