ALPENA - Alpena Municipal Council hosted a pair of public hearings Tuesday before its regular meeting began and both to clear the way for the new Holiday Inn Express to be built downtown. The board passed both measures, which dealt with the property and the flow of traffic near the proposed site.
The first hearing was to establish the property at the corner of Third Avenue and River Street where the hotel will be constructed a commercial rehabilitation district, which could make the developers Amerilodge eligible for a tax abatement and brownfield benefits from the state.
The second hearing was for changes in the street system on Third Avenue from Chisholm Street to River Street. Currently the road is a one-way street, but now it will allow for two way traffic and easier access to the new Holiday Inn from Chisholm.
City Engineer Rich Sullenger said the entire landscape of the road system in downtown will be examined soon, but in order to get motorists and pedestrians familiar with the changes, focus needed to be made on the area surrounding the hotel first.
"This is really something that is new because we have talked about making the one ways two ways for four or five years since I've been here," Sullenger said. "This hotel has been a catalyst for us to refocus to see what is viable. Our intention is to look at all of the traffic patterns to see if we can convert the one-way streets back to two-way, but that process will take a significant amount of time and we don't want to hold this portion up."
Motorists traveling on Carter Street near the Cellar restaurant will have only one lane, as the second lane will be barricaded so motorists don't encounter head-on traffic. Sullenger said it will cost about $68,200, which will come out of the major street fund and then should be reimbursed from the brownfield money.
Sullenger said once the new traffic rules are in effect he doesn't anticipate the rest of the street study will take too long.
"It isn't going to take two years or anything like that," Sullenger said. "We hope to have it done next summer and then make any changes that are needed."
In other business:
* Mayor Matt Waligora reappointed Dennis Schultz to the compensation commission for a five-year term.
* Waligora also recognized former Officer Robert Lang on his retirement after 12 years working for the city.
* Waligora made a proclamation declaring 30 Days of Peace in Alpena.
* Civil commendations were made to Shalina Mischley, John Knapp and Derek Knapp for their quick action in saving the life of Bob Carr when he had a heart attack while playing softball.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.