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Houghton OKs furnishings for Lakeshore Drive corridors

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette After the Lakeshore Drive corridor work came in significantly under budget, the Houghton City Council approved purchasing benches and tables Wednesday that had been taken out of the original contract to reduce cost.

HOUGHTON — When preparing the Lakeshore Drive project, Houghton had originally pared back some expenses to account for costs.

With the project coming in $67,000 under budget, the city can fit some of that back in.

The City Council approved $23,500 to purchase furniture for the Lakeshore Drive redevelopment corridor. The amount covers 12 park benches, four backless park benches, four round picnic tables and one wheelchair-accessible picnic table.

In the original estimate, site furnishings would have cost $55,000 to $60,000. Council members complimented the Department of Public Works, which was able to build trash cans from steel band and pipe for less than half of what the city would have paid to a supplier.

“They did a great job and it was also a good way to fill in on an easy winter, give them some work to do,” said Clerk Ann Vollrath.

In other action, the council:

• Approved putting out the draft of the city’s master plan for a 42-day public comment period. The Planning Commission will then hold a public hearing on more public input. Once public feedback is incorporated, the plan can be approved.

• Approved spending up to $38,000 on a manhole saw. In a memo to the council, City Manager Eric Waara said the saw would enable the city to cut a precise ring around the manhole and replace the area surrounding it with concrete rather than asphalt. Since the asphalt around manhole covers is more prone to failure, this would extend the life of the road, Waara said. The cost will be split between the major street, local street and sewer funds.

• Heard an update on the city’s electric vehicle charging station from Vollrath. There had been 765 charging sessions since they were installed, an average of about two per day. Usage trends followed tourism, peaking with 95 charges in September and falling to nine in January. Based on the numbers, Houghton’s current charging stations are enough to meet demand, Waara said in a memo to the council.

• Approved the release of a deed restriction on property used by the Kataluma Apartments that had prohibited its sale without also selling a paired property across the street. Owner Derek Bradway had usd the property across the street to meet the 40 parking spots required under the city’s zoning ordinance. In April 2023, the Planning Commission voted to reduce the required parking at the apartments from 40 to 38, rendering the parcel across the street superfluous.

• Heard from Vollrath the state had informed Houghton it did not receive the Michigan Community Center and Neighborhood Initiative grant, which it had sought for work on Dee Stadium. DPW did install a new mural at the stadium, replacing one which had been there for 10 years and was showing advanced wear. Crews are also installing insulation in the ceiling above the Dee ballroom to help with heat.

• Appointed Dave Olsson to the city Charter and Review Commission.

• Appointed Trisia Narhi to the Downtown Development Authority/Tax Increment Finance Authority to fill an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2027.

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