New restrooms at fairgrounds eyed

ESCANABA — A pair of restroom facilities may be built at the U.P. State Fairgrounds in the future. The Delta County Board of Commissioners voted in favor of the Upper Peninsula State Fair Authority’s plans to apply for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant related to the facilities Tuesday.

During the board’s meeting Tuesday evening, Delta County Commerce Center Executive Director Vickie Micheau talked about the board’s role in the grant application process.

“I think that what you have received is a resolution that has to be passed by this body that would allow the U.P. State Fair Authority to apply for a DNR trust fund grant of up to $300,000 to construct two restroom facilities on the fairgrounds,” she said. The authority has committed to providing 25 percent in matching funds, as is a requirement for the grant applications.

One of the new facilities would be located next to the DNR Pocket Park, where there are about 70 campsites. The other would be located in a proposed new campground area on fairgrounds-controlled property next to 9th Avenue North. Micheau referred to this as the “North Coast property.”

“Eventually, that campground will have about 71 sites,” she said.

Before the board’s vote, Board Chair Patrick Johnson asked some questions about the facilities — including what would happen to them if the fair ceased operations.

According to Micheau, the fairgrounds property was conveyed to Delta County by the state of Michigan on the condition a fair and other activities be held regularly on the land. If this were ever not the case, the state would have the opportunity to reclaim the fairgrounds.

“What we would have to do is — if there were problems related to ownership or continuation of the fair — we would have to then pay the money back to the state of Michigan through the DNR,” Micheau said.

Johnson also asked about the authority’s plans for the maintenance of the facilities.

“We have a 10-year long-term facility improvement plan … this project is included in that plan,” Micheau said.

No comments were made during the public hearing. The members of the board present at Tuesday’s meeting voted unanimously to allow the application to move forward. Vice-Chair Gerard Tatrow and Commissioner David Rivard could not attend due to illness.

In other business, the board:

– supported a lease agreement between the county and the city for the use of land at the Delta County Airport as the site of a new dog park. The land will be leased to the city for a 30-year term lasting from May 1, 2019 to May 1, 2049, and the city will be charged an annual fee of $1. Under one of the stipulations of the lease, the county would be required to give the city 90 days of advance notice if it was to terminate the lease.

– heard a presentation from representatives of Delta County Nonmotorized Trails. During the presentation, Treasurer Kathy Mason discussed the organization’s mission and the benefits of non-motorized trail systems.

Later, President Tony Lambert spoke about what the organization has accomplished since it was formed. This has included the approval of its 501(c)(3) status; partnerships with 906 Adventure Team and local businesses; and meetings with landowners, governmental agencies, planning committees, trail builders and trail enthusiasts, among other successes.

“We’ve only been around for about a year, and we’ve been busy,” Lambert said.

Lambert also spoke about the group’s goals for the future and desire to work with the county to improve non-motorized trails in the area.

– ratified County Administrator Philip Strom’s signature on an application for conveyance regarding the current Delta County Correctional Facility property.

– agreed to partner with CUPPAD and OHM Advisors, who will serve as consultants in the development of the county’s new master plan. According to Strom, this is expected to cost approximately $20,000 this fiscal year and $20,000 next fiscal year.

– formally approved the resignation of former Chief Assistant Prosecutor Benjamin Parmet. The board also okayed the filling of the assistant prosecutor position on a part-time basis, as well as the posting of a job description for the full-time position.

– gave Strom authority to send a letter stating the county has no comment on a non-gaming land acquisition application filed by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

– approved the filling of a part-time office clerk position at the Delta County Sheriff’s Office.

– discussed applications to fill openings on the Delta County Planning Commission from Janet Feenstra-Daasch, John Malnar, Andrew Claes, Ken Hinzman and Dennis Renken. The board will make appointments to fill the two openings on the commission during its next meeting, scheduled for April 2.