Ontonagon property removal in question during meeting

oments that only take a second or two that ends up being the most remembered. This was the case at this week’s Ontonagon Village Council meeting.

Right before the council voted on the resolution to accept the $50,000 Demolition Grant from the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority to help with the expenses to demolish the former Wagers Restaurant, a quietly asked question from a council member is what had many in the community talking.

“At the last meeting people were talking about the incident that had taken place and I haven’t heard what any resolutions were, and I was wondering if you have an update,” Council member Sarah Hopper asked Pro Tem President Tony Smydra.

“The matter is under consideration,” said Smydra. “It would be inappropriate to talk about this. There’s legal issues.”

The “incident” Hopper was referring too was an alleged removal of property from Wagers Restaurant during the early morning hours by a local construction company.

While none of the council members commented on the incident or Hopper’s question, all immediately voted to accept the grant. The multi-page grant goes over the specifics that can and cannot be done to the property to acquire the grant.

One section in the grant states, “The grantee is responsible for the completion of all proper due diligence with regard to identifying and addressing potential environmental concerns prior to start of work.”

It is not known whether the former Wagers Restaurant has/had any ‘environmental concerns,’ one of which would be asbestos.

It was reported at the previous council meeting that no “work” had been done on the property, including no report as to the alleged incident of property removal.

On another matter, Pat Tucker of Lost Bowl Development addressed the council about material left over on his property from a recent dredging of the Ontonagon River. Tucker proposed to move the material, at his own expense and possible contamination liability, in place of the council having to take care of the material.

“We are going to move it, and absorb all the costs for this,” he said.

The rules, and liability for the dredged material has to go through the Army Corps of Engineers, of which Tucker stated he has been in contact with and will work with the council in getting the legal approval for removal of the material and where that material can be discarded.

The Council agreed to Tucker’s proposal.

Village manager Joe Erickson updated the council on a recent meeting with Jeremy Graff, water department supervisor, on numerous sewer issues within the Village. One of which deals with the pump, check valve, and pump controls at the Tin Street lift station. Another dealt with two Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) letters.

“One regarding deficiencies in our asset management plan with regard to the DEQ’s water rate requirements, and another regarding required preliminary distribution system, including the type of materials and whether ‘any portion contains lead,” he said.

Erickson also talked about either the repair or replacement of the “old R-22 refrigerant” at the Ontonagon Recreation Center. This deals with making and holding the ice in the Rec Center. Erickson talked about the cost to repair, replace with a used system, or the purchase of a new system.

“If a solution cannot be found there may not be ice next season,” said Erickson.

During the meeting the council voted unanimously to send Erickson, and/or council members, with all expenses covered by the village to an Asset Management Meeting, Michigan Municipal Managers Collaborative Meeting, and a UP Education Summit. The meetings range from Houghton to Escanaba to Lansing.

The council approved the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Pavement Warranty Resolution. They sent the appointment of a member to the village marina committee to the personal committee. Three people applied, Tom Colgin, Victoria James and Sue Lockhart.

The village did not get anyone with the proper state requirements to apply for the building inspector position. That has also been sent to the personal committee.

Even though the public information packet had the council voting to cancel the meeting that would have been scheduled for Memorial Day. The packet showed Village President Ken Waldrop voting to cancel the meeting, even though he did not attend the meeting. This was brought to the attention by an individual in the room.

Smydra agreed, and the council did vote to cancel that meeting.