Project could provide more housing, recreation in Alcona County

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alcona County Commission on Aging Executive Director Lenny Avery, left, shows off design plans for a proposed project in Lincoln to Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist on Thursday. The $31 million project would include the construction of a new community center, housing, and recreational amenities.

LINCOLN — A proposed project in Alcona County could help solve the ongoing housing issue, while providing residents a plethora of recreational options, which some say are badly needed.

The approximately $31 million project — which would be located adjacent to the Dollar General on N. Barlow Road — would include a new community center, 44 housing units for families and seniors, and recreational amenities.

Water and sewer infrastructure would need to be installed before the rest of the development can proceed.

Lenny Avery, executive director for the Alcona County Commission on Aging, said the project is ready to break ground, but the community and its partners need financial support to help cover the cost.

He said environmental studies are completed and construction could begin very quickly after the money is acquired, which Avery said will be done via grants, as well as public and private investment.

At this point, Avery said, there is no plan to seek a tax increase from property owners to help cover the cost of the project.

“We will put together an advisory committee to explore what grants to apply for and then attack the low hanging fruit,” Avery said. “We will also look to apply for USDA funding.”

As far as paying for the needed water and sewer system, Avery said he intends to work with the Alcona County Board of Commissioners and other municipal governing bodies to try to convince them to use a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act money.

Alcona County received $2,021,049 from the federal government stimulus package.

The State of Michigan also has hundreds of millions of dollars it intends to invest in infrastructure, parks, and housing.

On Thursday, Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist learned more about the project during a visit to Lincoln and he said it covered all of the bases the State looks at when issuing grants. Gilchrist said the project seems to align with the intent of the state’s initiatives.

“We are going to do our job as far as the programming, the funding sources to be able to support this kind of development,” Gilchrist said. “It seems like this project is well positioned to perhaps be a foundational project. I think with the pieces already out in place, will maybe allow us to move more quickly and these resources exist to be invested and not to sit on a shelf for legislatures to argue about.”

Avery said the new community center, and adjacent housing complexes, will also feature tennis courts, a splash park, a skate park that can transition into an ice rink in the winter, and a two-mile walking track around the property.

He said the housing shortage must be addressed because, right now, there is a lack of housing, and as business and development picks up at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, people may want to live in Alcona County.

Avery said there have already been people who have wanted to move to the area, but can’t because of a lack of housing.

“We have missed out on teachers and other quality people because we have nowhere to put them,” Avery said. “When that base was open, it was a boon for this community and businesses and I want to see that again and not watch the community where I live, and that I love, continue to shrink.”

A public survey was done and more than 1,000 people participated, most of them were residents of Alcona County, Avery said. He said the results showed that 98% of them supported the project, and 87% of that total rated the project with five stars.

“That means they think we need this now,” he said.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.


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