The Grand Beach Village council met on Wednesday January 18 for the first meeting of 2017 and authorized a new telephone contract and a new computer and new software for the water department.
Building Commissioner Jim Bracewell reported that all the eight new construction and renovation projects were going well in the Village. He said there was an inquiry regarding the height of a home on Cedar. Building Inspector Bill Lampert added that 42 permits were issued in 2016/2017 and construction in the Village was very active.
Parks and Beaches Commissioner Frank Giglio reported little activity. Councilmen Blake O’Halloran suggested looking at a couple of trees located in the park to determine their health and safety.
Golf Commissioner Blake O’Halloran reported no activity.
Street and Water Commission Paul Leonard Jr. reported that the on-going matter of the Grand Beach Land Development and Grand Beach Investments deeding private streets over to the Village was wrapping up. He reported that all of the paperwork had been approved and the transaction was in the final stages of being signed, filed and recorded. This transaction has been going on for a very long time and the commissioners said they were pleased to be in the final stages of the transaction. Village Attorney Sara Bell Senica attended the meeting to answer any final questions regarding the transaction.
Leonard stated that the transfer of the roads, “Was a very nice offer and in the best interest of the Village.” He thanked Grand Beach Development and Ellen Frankel for their offer.
Leonard stated that the State of Michigan Commission on 21st. Century Infrastructure had issued a report that said over $60 billion dollars will be needed, over the next ten years, to repair roads in Michigan. The report stated that local municipalities and communities should be looking at ways to raise funds for these projects. Leonard stated that the Village still receives Act 51 funds for road projects and he added that the Village will continue to pave roads, as money is available. He asked for residence to keep the Village informed of pot hole repairs, where they see that they are needed.
Police Commissioner Debbie Lindley said there was little activity to report and Chief Dan Schroeder was not in attendance.
Street Superintendent Bob Dabbs stated that his crews are filling pot holes and working on winter projects in the shop. He added that snow plowing has been light this year. Under new business, Dabbs reported that the Water department was in need of a new computer and new Telemetry System software. He said the current system is running, or sometimes not running reliably, under Windows 6 software, which is obsolete. After a discussion, Leonard asked if the new software would better meet the needs of the residence going forward and would the new software enhance Dabbs’ ability to respond to emergencies or other important situations that may occur in the Village. When he was assured that was the case, it was determined that the new software was necessary and it could be acquired through the water fund budget. The purchase was authorized by the council, not to exceed $10,000. They also authorized the replacement of a valve in the water system for approximately $1,500.
Clay Putnam of Service Pro also stated there was very little to report. He said the golf course was slightly above budget for the year and they were seeking bids to replace some of the golf course equipment.
The council discussed the diseased Spruce trees along Grand Beach Road and sadly determined that many will have to be removed. The fungus killing them is an air and water borne pathogen that is effecting all of the spruce trees according to Putnam. He said that some trees are worse than others, he said some may be able to be treated, but in the end, he said, they may or may not survive and the cost and length of treatment was an unknown factor. He said the disease was ‘hopscotching’ across the Spruce trees throughout the Village. White Pine trees are not susceptible to this particular pathogen, he added.
The board agreed that 42 trees, which have become an eyesoar, will have to be removed and destroyed in the spring; the remaining thirty-some trees are still being analyzed to determine what direction to take. In total, 71 trees on Grand Beach Road are infected by the disease.
All agreed that it was a shame to lose the trees and also the barrier to the noise along the railroad tracks. The council does plan to replace the trees; Leonard suggested that the trees be replaced by a diverse variety of evergreen trees to avoid a monoculture and the threat of a future disease wiping out another variety of tree.
In new business, the Council discussed the possibility that land owned by Grand Beach Development, some of which is currently leased for the driving range, may become available for purchase. Leonard asked that the Village be given first right of refusal if the driving range land and adjacent land was offered for sale.
O’Halloran stated that any grants that may be available to the parks would need to be applied for before April 1, 2017, if the Village was to seek the purchase of the land, if it was offered for sale. Grants applied for in April are typically not awarded until the following October. The land in question could be as much as 42 acres, many of those acres could be considered for preservation lands and the remainder for the driving range.
Leonard reported that he and Clerk Mary Robertson met with The Pokagon Fund Executive Director Janet Cocciarelli and learned of the new direction being taken by the Board of The Pokagon Fund in regards to grant funding. He stated that TPF will be directing the grant financing to specific projects that they deem important; poverty reduction, education and community vitality. He stated that in the future, approved grants would also be paid to the municipalities on a reimbursement basis. He stated that the Village of Grand Beach may qualify for future grants under the community vitality criteria. The concern of the Board is to protect the principle of the Fund and avoid running out of money in the future. The Pokagon Fund receives .75 percent of the electronic gaming from the Four Winds Casino, annually, for the purpose of grant funding. Grand Beach has $33,474 accrued in their Pokagon Fund municipal allocation account.
The council discussed a previous decision regarding changing the Life Insurance carrier and they determined, in light of new information, that they were better off to stay with their current carrier which they made a motion to do.
The council tabled the matter of redrafting the Social Committee contract until further input could be obtained regarding a liquor sales insurance policy. There was a concern that a new policy may be redundant. The Village does need to have a $1 million certificate of insurance for liability of alcohol sales in the Hall, but there was a thought that this may be currently covered under the Social Committee insurance policy carrier.
The council agreed to a three year contract with Comcast for telephone service in the Village offices. Their current contract was up for renewal with AT &T and after research by Mary Robertson and receiving written quotes from both AT & T and Comcast, it was determined that Comcast offered the best option. The office will keep their current telephone equipment and the service will not be over the internet line, which all agreed could present a problem if internet service in the Village was down.
There are currently seven land lines serving the Village; in the office in the hall, police department and street department. It was also suggested by the council for Robertson to investigate adding public Wi-Fi for the Village Hall location, to the new contract.
A hall rental was approved, in arrears, for Jim Bracewell for Dec. 31, 2016.
The next meeting of the Village of Grand Beach council will be Wednesday February 15 at 7:30 at Village Hall.