Rogers City officials discussing marina upgrades
ROGERS CITY — Rogers City is preparing for a possible decline in the local fishery in Lake Huron, which officials believe is possible due to the approval of the updated Great Lakes Fishing Decree.
The decree will allow tribes in Michigan to utilize gill nets, which some believe kill species of fish that aren’t targeted and could negatively impact fishing.
On Friday, Team Rogers City was updated on what the city intends to do to increase revenue at the harbor, should fishing fall off and fewer boaters choose to dock or launch from the marina.
City Manager Joe Hefele said the marina has been profitable because slip leases have been at capacity and transient traffic has continued to rise.
He said some of the ideas to help boost revenue include building heated storage facilities that will allow boat owners to securely store their water crafts and easily put them back in the water when winter passes. He said purchasing a traveling boat hoist would also help remove and return large boats into the lake when water depths are hallowing.
Hefele said these projects would help the marina attract more boaters that make Rogers City their home port.
I think we can expect fewer fishing boats and we need to do everything in our power to bring in more power boats and sailboats, which this would help do,” he said. “If we can accomplish this, I am confident we can remain profitable even if the fishery changes. The fishery is out of our hands.”
Mayor Scott McLennan said it remains to be seen what the impact from the renewed decree will have on fishing and Rogers City’s economy. He said local leaders need to recognize there could be an issue down the road and be ready to address it.
We all have to be real about the situation and be prepared for the situation,” he said.
Hefele said outdoor winter storage at the marina has continued to increase and the average cost for a boat owner to store their boat is about $2,000. He said adding enclosed facilities that are heated and protect people’s boats from the elements is already in high demand.
In addition to the marina, officials discusses several other topics on Friday:
NEW MURAL FESTIVAL
It was announced Friday that Rogers City plans to host a mural festival next summer, where local and out-of-area artists will add splashes of color to downtown. It is expected to be held on the second Friday in June and run concurrent with the annual Art Walk.
Rogers City Main Street Executive Director Alex Harimoto said businesses are already excited about the murals and there would be four or five new murals painted at various places downtown.
“It will bring a splash of color to the downtown,” he said.
Rogers City officials are working with state Rep. Cam Cavitt, a Republican from Cheboygan, and state Sen. Michele Hoitenga, a Republican from Manton, to try to get the speed limit on U.S. 23 near the M-68 intersection lowered.
The state told city officials previously that it can not, by law, lower the speed limit without a study that concludes people are driving slowly through the corridor. A study done independently by the city showed the average rate of speed of drivers was 56 miles per hour, which could force the state to increase the speed limit.
The state is also considering a roundabout or four-way stop. McLennan said local officials are working to get the politicians in Lansing to amend the statute, which could allow for the Michigan Department of Transportation to tweak the speed limit.
Earlier this year, a 58-year-old Rogers City woman died in a crash near the intersection.
“Lowering the speed limit is what we need. Not a four-way stop or a roundabout,” McLennan said. “It really is common sense and we aren’t going to let this issue go and we’re not going to lose any more lives.”
A.J. SUPER SERVICE BUILDING
Harimoto also announced that the former car dealership that is vacant and unused has been purchased by the Rogers City Downtown Development Authority-Michigan Main Street for about $105,000.
What is to become of the old dealership is still unknown, but steps are being taken to address environmental issues in the soil and inside of the building where there is lead paint and asbestos.
One of the ideas, Harimoto said, is to open a business incubator where upstart entrepreneurs can start up a business, without all of the overhead costs small business owners typically face when they first begin.
It is also possible a DDA office and satellite office for Target Alpena, which provides developmental services for Rogers City, could be included in a plan for the building. McLennan said community input and ideas for the building is also welcome.
LAKESIDE PARK PAVILION
In 2021, Rogers City received a $185,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to update the pavilion at Lakeside Park and add new playground equipment to replace the old equipment that was deemed unsafe. Hefele said extensive work is planned for the pavilion, restrooms and there will also be new flooring, improvements to the fireplace, and showers.
He said the DNR is reviewing the plan and then he is expected to get the green light to move forward with the project. He said the hope is the renovations will be complete before the Nautical Festival next year.
The Rogers City area is one of two locations in Michigan being considered for a national veterans cemetery. The project is being pushed in Lansing by Cavitt and if Northeast Michigan is chosen over Crawford County, the $12 million facility could be constructed.
The proposed sites for the cemetery include a former airstrip on U.S. 23 South, the old golf course near Onaway, on state owned property on M-33, and on M-68 in Ocqueoc Township. McLennan said the state could decide on the location in the coming weeks and urged veterans and veteran groups to send letters of support to Cavitt’s office.