Board receives update on River Center

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The Alpena County Board of Commissioners received a preview of what the proposed River Center will look like once built. The commissioners got to see a model of the facility, a layout blueprint and a promotional video.

ALPENA — The Alpena County Board of Commissioners had an opportunity to see a model of the proposed River Center at Duck Park during its meeting Thursday. It also had a chance to watch a promotional video.

River Center will be an interactive educational facility that will focus on the Thunder Bay Watershed. If constructed it will sit just off the shore at Duck Park and cost about $4 million to build.

Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary board Secretary Judy Kalmanek said during her powerpoint presentation that she has received a letter of support from counties bordering Alpena. She said she has reached out to local organizations and service groups to encourage them to hold fundraisers for the project and a push to increase private donations also is being made.

“We are making progress, but there is a long way to go,” she said. “We will be seeking grants and having naming rights to some of the areas of River Center, too.”

Kalmanek said the goal is to have the money in hand so construction can begin in 2019. She said projected revenue for the first year is about $99,000, 10 percent of which would go into a sustainability fund. That percentage would be deposited each year thereafter, she said.

“River Center needs to be self-sustainable,” Kalmanek said.

The three minute video explains why the location at Duck Park was selected and what the goals and objectives are. It shows designs, including the front of the structure which is built into the ground to keep sight lines of the island and water as open as possible.

Kalmanek said as the facility’s progress moves forward, more updates to boards will follow.

In other business:

∫ Northeast Community Mental Health Authority Director Cathy Meske provided the annual report to the commissioners. She said there is an effort to work with other local agencies to help treat mental illness. She also provided a brief budget update.

∫ the commissioners voted to approve supporting a resolution that objects to the federal government’s proposal to cut Great Lakes funding.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.