ROGERS CITY - In anticipation of receiving state funding for emergency dredging of the Rogers City Marina, city council members approved spending money to get the permitting process started.
In February, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced it would ask the state legislature to appropriate $21 million to dredge 49 harbors across the state. The plan is a reaction to record-low water levels in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, which are considered to be the same due to their link at the Straits of Mackinac. Out of this money, $227,500 will go to Rogers City to dredge the city marina.
Before the city can take advantage of this money, Rogers City needs a permit from the Department of Environmental Quality to dredge the harbor, City Manager Mark Slown said. City council members approved his request for $2,000 to begin the process of applying for a permit.
"We do not have a permit to do the dredging," he said. "I did not think we would get the funding for it until recently, and our old permit has expired."
Normally, getting a permit would take anywhere from 90 to 120 days, Slown said. However, he has been told by state officials that the process would be fast-tracked for Rogers City, as well as for other grant recipients. Nevertheless, he'd like to get the process underway sooner rather than later in case the clamor by other municipalities causes the process to take longer than the DEQ anticipates.
There's also the question of when - or if - the state will approve the plan. Until then, Slown said, the city won't get the money.
"It appears that may take some time yet," he said.
Another reason Slown wanted to get the process under way is the rapid approach of boating season, he said. Once the permits are in place and the city has the money, they'll contract with a firm they've worked with before. The marina will be closed for about a month while dredging is under way, and he would like to get this done before boaters are looking to use the marina.
Mayor Beach Hall said he was pleased to see the state working so fast to do something about the situation. At the same time, he was disappointed the DNR opted to hold off on another grant for a floating fuel dock until next year. Either way, this match-free grant means the city will be able to dredge its marina, something that otherwise would have been cost-prohibitive.
While Rogers City doesn't have as much depth as it used to, it's in much better shape than other marinas in the state, Hall said.
"There are some harbors that don't have two feet of water to get into them," he said.
In other business:
* Ann Gildner, a member of Friends of Ottawa Park, told council members about a project to bring sculptures to Rogers City, as well as Onaway, Mackinaw City, Indian River and Cheboygan. The sculptures would be moved on a rotational basis. There's no cost to the city, but officials would need to decide on a location for the sculpture platform. Slown suggested North Shore Park, and council members said they'd decide within a month.
* council members opted to hold off on a proposal to engineer changes to the US-23/M-68 intersection until after the next budget workshop. Councilman Gary Nowak said he supported the idea, but wanted to see where the money would come from and how the city would fund the next phases.
* council approved a request from the Rogers City Area Chamber of Commerce to use Lakeside Park for Family Fun Day and Fireworks on June 6.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5688.