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RC, Harrisville partner on high-water damage

Two cities discuss Lake Huron shoreline repairs

News photo by Crystal Nelson Harrisville Mayor Jeff Gehring, left, and Rogers City Mayor Scott McLennan, right, on Thursday discuss how high water levels are impacting their communities at the Harrisville harbor. Pictured in the background is Harrisville Department of Public Works employee Alan Kay and DPW Director Tom Keerl.

HARRISVILLE — Concerns about the rising water levels of Lake Huron brought officials from Harrisville and Rogers City together on Thursday.

From Rogers City, Mayor Scott McLennan, City Manager Joe Hefele, Councilman Dick Adair, and Harbormaster Wayne Saile traveled to Harrisville to tour the damage to that city’s harbor and speak with city officials.

Both of the cities have infrastructure damage as a result of the rising water levels. Harrisville Mayor Jeff Gehring said he invited Rogers City officials to visit because the two cities have a lot of similarities.

Several of Harrisville’s floating docks were destroyed during a Jan. 10 storm, when waves ripped the floating docks away from the fixed docks, according to Harrisville Department of Public Works Director Tom Keerl. He said waves came crashing over the breakwall during that storm, where there were also four-foot swells in the harbor.

The city’s breakwall is owned and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but Gehring said the Corps have done “virtually no maintenance” on the breakwall since the waters started rising. He said the breakwall is no longer tall enough to handle the high waters.

“After being here, I’m ecstatic,” McLennan said. “We have so many similarities — not only similar challenges, but a very similar approach to how we are handling those challenges.”

A storm in November washed the foundation of Rogers City’s Smitka Park away, costing the city $4,000 to shore up the foundation and keep the park from sliding into Lake Huron.

City officials are also concerned about how close the water is getting to the deep water wellhouse at Seagull Point Park.

McLennan said Harrisville officials will be invited to Rogers City for a tour of their shoreline damage, but that they would wait until spring when damage to the city’s infrastructure will be more visible.

Gehring said representatives from both communities plan to meet on a quarterly basis and he’s looking forward to developing a relationship with them. In addition to the high water issues, he said the communities have similar demographics and the need for economic development.

“Going forward, I think we have a great partnership, and we’re going to help each other out,” Gehring said.

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

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