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RC debates park’s future

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Members of the Harbor Advisory Committee listen to Harbormaster Wayne Saile talk about the marina’s needs headed into the upcoming budget year.

ROGERS CITY — The Rogers City Harbor Commission on Tuesday discussed how much effort to put into saving Smitka Park before cutting their losses.

The park is among several locations in the city impacted by the rising water levels of Lake Huron. The city’s breakwall, water wells and a wellhouse at Seagull Point Park, and a portion of the city’s bike path near the wastewater treatment plant are either affected or threatened by the rising water levels.

City officials spent $4,000 to stabilize Smitka Park after an October storm washed the park’s foundation away. While those repairs have held so far, city officials are worried the repairs may not last.

City Manager Joe Hefele said officials plan to look at “all of these dire spots with somebody of expertise in that area,” but, “as much as everybody loves how that park looks, at some point you gotta cut your losses. It is what it is. We need to keep the wall in place for the functionality of the marina, but, if every week that park gets pulled apart, at some point, there’s just not enough money to rebuild it.”

Harbormaster Wayne Saile told committee members he would want to make at least one more attempt to put the park back together. Saile said no one anticipated the erosion would occur from inside the foundation of the park. He believes that, as long as the integrity of the repairs hold up, saving the park would just be the cost of man hours.

Saile said he has already received a request to have a wedding out there this year.

The water near the park is deep, Committee Member Todd Curtis said, undermining the area so it is starting to fall in.

Committee Member Tom Allum said that, if the breakwall were his property, and he didn’t know what the future holds, he would overtop the whole breakwall with stone and not attempt to make repairs until a couple years had passed.

Hefele indicated city officials are going to need more time to come up with a cost for the repairs.

“Right now, our plan is to get to spring, take a look at the damage and then we’ll go from there,” Hefele said.

The discussion about the park came about after Hefele proposed “a bare-bones budget” for the marina in the 2021 fiscal year. The proposed $324,000 budget is a 13.4% decrease from the budget adopted for the current fiscal year.

The budget includes some small-scale infrastructure replacement for the marina, such as $7,500 to replace buoys, $5,000 to replace the marina’s existing radio system, and a $2,000 allocation for additional ice eaters to prevent ice from damaging the marina’s docks.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.