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Bessemer City Council discusses Mary Street park project


Katie Perttunen/Daily Globe

CLEAN-UP is underway at the Mary Street Ethnic Commons in Bessemer, with two gazebos, lighting, and sod in place.

BESSEMER- New Bessemer Mayor Butch Semmerling asked questions about the Mary Street Ethnic Commons during his first city council meeting Monday.

"Some people are proud of the park, some aren't," Semmerling said. He asked City Manager Michael Uskiewicz how much local money was tied up in the project.

Uskiewicz said $80,000, or 20 percent local match of the $279,000 grant, is being used, with some consisting of in-kind donations from the Gogebic Range Water Authority.

Concerns were raised about the stability of the land where concrete has been laid at the park.

Uskiewicz said he didn't know what the cost of the park's maintenance would be, in response to a question from Semmerling.

Semmerling said his 41 years on the fire department taught him the best place for a fire hydrant is on the corner. The fire hydrant at the park is near the middle of the block, which will be a challenge for fire trucks to negotiate on the one-way street in winter, Semmerling said.

Semmerling said three Bessemer fire hydrants in the two block area have been removed. "I don't look at that favorably."

Uskiewicz said there are no plans to put new Bessemer fire hydrants in the area.

Department of Public Works lead man Neal Nelson said the lack of a Bessemer hydrant has caused a flushing issue for residents. DPW usually flushes one block at a time, but in the Mary Street area four or five blocks are affected now if flushing needs to be done, he said.

The council also discussed the price of water from the new fire hydrant.

While Uskiewicz said at previous meetings the GRWA had agreed to provide up to 100,000 gallons per watering season to the Mary Street site at no cost, two city council members said Monday they had spoken to a representative from the GRWA and were told the GRWA does not provide water for free.

Bessemer's water rate is $4.15 per 1,000 gallons, while GRWA's rate is $5.45 per 1,000 gallons, council member Linda Nelson said.

The rate GRWA will charge Bessemer for water has not been asked nor decided, council member Doug Olsen said. The $5.45 rate is Ironwood Township's current rate.

Uskiewicz said Bessemer and the GRWA have a "great partnership," pointing out the GRWA has invested $2.5 million in the city. "We should continue to build partnerships," he said.

An electrical service panel has been removed from near the Pit Stop, but will be replaced in a different location, Uskiewicz said.

Semmerling said that C2AE, the engineering firm in charge of the project, needs to meet with DPW, himself, and GRWA to straighten out the issue.

In other business, the council appointed:

-former Mayor John Frello to the Downtown Development Authority,

-Bonnie Maki to the Bessemer Library Board,

-Francis Strelcheck to the Sewer Authority Board.

The council approved a resolution supporting Michigan's Western Gateway Trail, and approved an ordinance allowing Mayor Pro Tempore Al Gaiss to serve on the DDA rather than Semmerling.

The council approved a Chamber of Commerce request to use the city auditorium for a showing of "Prancer" on Dec. 1 after the 5 p.m. Christmas tree lighting in the pocket park. The tree of honor will be lit at that time as well, Nelson said.

A motion to record all future council meetings was made by council member Marlene Zaleski, and passed on a three to two vote.


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