City council gives nod to summer events

ESCANABA — As the snow fades, bringing hope that spring is on the way, other indications the weather is warming include several outdoor community events requesting the use of public spaces that were approved at Thursday’s Escanaba City Council meeting.

A dozen requests to use Ludington Park facilities, the marina, and the municipal dock for various activities from April to October were okayed by council under the conditions that event sponsors provide insurance and cleanup.

Events include 5K run fundraisers, fishing tournaments, music concerts, the Waterfront Art Festival, Recreating in the Great Outdoors, and UPtoberfest.

In addition, bids for portable restrooms, concessions, and Fourth of July fireworks for the city were also approved by council Thursday.

In other business, council approved an agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources regarding a $45,000 Recreation Passport Grant to help fund the installation of a playground at the new marketplace being built downtown.

City Manager Jim O’Toole said the playground will cost about $84,600 with the balance of the project being paid for with funds already budgeted in the current fiscal year budget.

The marketplace playground will be fully-handicapped accessible, O’Toole added, noting there will even be a swing to accommodate a wheelchair.

Regarding council’s search for a new city manager because O’Toole is retiring in July, O’Toole said three final candidates will be interviewed beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday at city hall. The public is invited to attend the special council meeting.

During a public hearing Thursday — held in preparation of the 2017-18 fiscal year budget — the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center requested council continue to provide $5,000 to the organization. A group of softball teams within the city also requested $5,000 to be included in the budget to assist in maintaining local fields.

The upcoming budget will also include funds not to exceed $6,200 for a two-year contract with DSTECH Inc. of Escanaba to provide e-mail and archiving services for the city, as approved by council on Thursday.