Weather, phone lines causing snags in pier work

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Construction equipment for the Houghton pier project is seen along the waterfront Thursday.

HOUGHTON — Construction on Houghton’s pier project is pausing for two weeks because of frigid temperatures, City Manager Eric Waara told the city council Wednesday. But longer delays could come from not knowing the location of phone lines crossing the Portage Canal to the AT&T building in Ripley.

The city has been in talks with AT&T trying to obtain a map of the lines in order to avoid damage while piledriving. Divers are expected to come on Feb. 18.

“Of course, they said, ‘Man, this would’ve been easier if we’d done this in August,'” Waara said. “Yeah, and this would’ve been easier if you’d paid attention when we asked you about this in June.”

The city will have to figure out ways to mitigate the additional time and money required for the project, Waara said.

Discussions are also starting on ways to bring the area’s farmer’s markets under the umbrella of one area-wide manager. A single management could reduce the amount of paperwork and accounting required, which gets complicated quickly when adding in healthy food programs and other issues, Waara said.

“That was actually initiated up on the north end just to try to unify that management around the area so we can have the best program we have for the farmer’s market,” Waara said.

Planning is also underway for this year’s Bridgefest, which is scheduled for June 16-19. This year’s Bridgefest is expected to see the return of the Bridgefest parade, as well as the Thatcher Markham Memorial 5K. The American Society of Civil Engineers will also dedicate a monument at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge commemorating it as a national historic site.

Waara and Hancock City Manager Mary Babcock have also informally talked about the return of cardboard boat races. In previous years, the council had raced Hancock’s.

“I might drag (former City Manager) Scott MacInnes out of retirement to give a seminar on how to build a cardboard boat,” he said.

Police Chief John Donnelly said the department is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to plan for security for cruise ships to the city this summer. The exact landing location is still unknown, Waara said. Cruise ship pilots visited Houghton last fall to examine the waterfront and record the dimensions of the canal.

The boat will be too large to fit under the bridge, Donnelly said; one likely spot could be near Roy’s Pasties & Bakery, the site of a previous cruise ship docking. Councilor Mike Needham suggested adding money in the budget to improve the waterfront from the current “sea of old asphalt.”

The city will send an email to local businesses to see if there is interest in the next round of Match on Main applications. Good Times Music received the grant last year.


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