ROGERS CITY - Some Rogers City area residents want to see improvements in front of the city's band shell to improve accessibility, improvements the city cannot afford this year.
Kaye Zwolinski of Posen regularly attends summer concerts in Rogers City with her mother-in-law, who stays in Tendercare in town. She and her husband noticed the difficulty in getting people in wheelchairs to spots in front of the band shell at Lakeside Park. She would like to see a walkway and platform put in place, and she's not alone.
"We have to practically pick (the wheelchairs) up and pull them somewhere, because you cannot push those wheelchairs across the grass," she said.
Mary Grulke shares her concerns, she said. She, too, has a mother-in-law staying at Tendercare, and has a hard time getting her to the concerts.
Zwolinski has contacted Rogers City Mayor Beach Hall, as well as City Manager Mark Slown, she said. Slown told her it's not in the city's budget this year, but news of a recent donation to the city caught her attention. When a photography company paid Carmeuse Lime and Stone $3,750 to use its property to film a car commercial, Plant Manager Ray LeClair asked the company to make the check out to Rogers City instead. In a letter to the city, LeClair said he'd like to see it go to improving the city's ball fields or playgrounds.
Zwolinski wondered if the money could go toward making the band shell audience area more accessible, she said.
Slown said the donation likely will go to the city's playgrounds and sports fields, as LeClair indicated in his letter. Otherwise, the city is too strapped for cash to fund a project that could cost several thousand dollars.
"If Carmeuse wants to come back to me and say, 'We would love to fund that handicap-accessible area at the band shell,' I'm happy to hear from them," he said.
While the city is receptive to the idea, it simply doesn't have the money, Slown said. Currently, there's 25 miles of streets to maintain, with sidewalks on both sides of much of them. The city is working to make its street crossings more compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. It's also struggling to keep up with maintenance requirements for the rest of its sidewalks.
There are reserved parking spaces near Lakeside Park, and curb cuts near the band shell for a bike and walking path that runs through the park, Slown said. Otherwise, simply adding a curb cut near one of the parking spaces and adding a walkway to the Sailors Memorial could cost $500 to $1,000.
The city could apply for grants to help make the park more accessible, Slown said, but in the meantime its resources are limited.
"Making everything handicap-accessible is a very big project that we are working at as best we can, whenever we get an opportunity," he said.