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City closer to finalizing purchase of Beach Motel

July 1, 2013
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA - The City of Alpena is moving closer to purchasing the Beach Motel on State Avenue and converting the property into an addition to Starlite Beach.

On Monday Alpena Municipal Council voted to enter into a purchase agreement with the current owners. Before the purchase will be finalized a phase one environmental study will be done and if needed a second environmental study. If the deal is completed the city will acquire the motel for $130,000.

The plan is to make the purchase and then demolish it and the adjacent house, which will then offer a more prominent view of Thunder Bay, and the park itself. Mayor Matt Waligora said he has been against buying the property, but once he visited the location and did some homework on the matter, his thought process changed. He said if the city is not pleased with the assessment when done it can change or rescind its offer altogether.

"I wasn't a huge fan of the purchase from the beginning, but I spent some time down in that area and there really will be a noticeable difference in the view of the park and beachfront," Waligora said. "When I envisioned what it would look like without it, that is what kind of sold me on the idea."

Councilman Mike Nowak said he was also leery about buying the motel, but like Waligora when he saw the improvement it would lead to at the beach, he changed his mind.

"I wasn't interested in the purchase, but I am interested in continuing to developing the waterfront," he said. "Doing things like authorizing improvements downtown to make it look better are working and now I think removing this will do the same thing. It will make the beach area that much nicer."

Councilwoman Susan Nielsen said she is for buying the motel now because it is hard to predict what will happen in the future and she is fearful if it is left unsold it could become an eyesore in the years to come.

"I can't imagine there would be any other decision when you're looking at what is happening with the township and some of the hotels and problems they have brought," Nielsen said. "I can just see this hotel being the same way five years down the road and us saying 'why didn't we get in when we had the chance.' I think we should just take care of business now."

City Manager Greg Sundin said the money for the purchase would be borrowed from the city's equipment fund and it would be paid back with interest. He said the environmental work will be paid via an EPA grant and the brownfield authority. Sundin said the contractor should begin the phase one environmental study before the holiday weekend and hopes everything can be done by October.

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