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Wakefield chosen for pilot GIS program through WUPPDR

 

May 31, 2018



By P.J. GLISSON

news@yourdailyglobe.com

Wakefield — The Wakefield city council learned Tuesday that it is one of two communities chosen for a pilot geographical information system by the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region.

City manager Richard Brackney recently learned the good news from Brad Barnett, who works for WUPPDR’s Houghton office.

Brackney had applied for a grant with WUPPDR, whose website describes it as “the regional clearinghouse for federally and state-funded programs.”

He said the GIS system will map the city’s electric, water and sewer systems.

Brackney told the council WUPPDR will provide 40 hours of technical assistance for the rest of the year.

“There is no bill associated with this,” said Brackney, adding no city labor is needed either because WUPPDR “will work independently.”

In a Wednesday phone call with the Globe, Brackney said there are various standards in GIS mapping and he already has mapping of water hydrants.

He said the city also has basic sewer mapping, and more refined sewer “coordinates” will be developed via its Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater Program grant from Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

But he believes WUPPDR’s mapping will be more sophisticated.

Brackney said “the gold standard” in GIS work is via the Environmental Systems Research Institute, based in California, but he added, “It’s really, really expensive.”

“I don’t want to buy a plan that would require $10,000 per year to maintain it,” he said, so he specifically asked WUPPDR to help devise a system for Wakefield with no need of costly maintenance.

Moreover, he said of GIS technology, “You can take this and make it as much as you want.” For instance, he said a customized GIS plan might include age of utility poles and when they need replacement.

According to Brackney, the proposed mapping system will serve as “a baseline” or “trial.”

“If we come up with a good system, we will share it with everybody,” he said, referring to other interested communities.

“I think this is a good thing,” said council member Pat Mann during the meeting.

Brackney responded, happily, “When you know where things are, it certainly helps you to make decisions.”

In other news, the council also heard an update on progress made by the Split Rock Trail Association, which has been creating biking and hiking trails on the city-owned section 10 properties off Sunday Lake Mine Street.

SRTA secretary/treasurer Rod Ritter said Wakefield’s Chamber of Commerce has been getting increasing requests for trail maps.

Ritter and SRTA president Jim Engel, however, voiced disappointment in a recommendation by Brackney to order gravel from Smily’s Trucking and Excavating in Wakefield for a road leading to SRTA’s trails.

Ritter said SRTA was billed $1,200 for gravel at $20/yard and said Brackney never explained SRTA would have to pay the bill.

“We just feel it was reckless spending,” said Engel, who said cheaper gravel exists from other sources, and added, “We’re doing this (the trails) for the city.”

Ritter asked the city to pay half the bill, and the council voted to table the request until more information is gathered.

The council also:

— Voted to offer to purchase for $815 a lot of county land adjacent to city land on Pierce Street.

— Voted to hire Julia Tarro as a summer student office worker in the municipal building (council member Amy Tarro abstained) and four other students for outdoor city summer help.

— Voted to opt out of state public act 152 of 2011, which requires a health insurance hard cap 80%/20% cost share. Brackney said the city’s current union contract, which is due for renegotiation in 2019, has an 85 percent/15 percent cost share for the medical portion of health insurance premiums. Tarro abstained.

— Voted to opt out of the state’s low-income energy assistance fund (Public Act 95), for which participation would require assessing up to a $1 per month fee on all city electric customers. Brackney said city participation would not guarantee that the state would earmark collections for use in Wakefield.

— Heard a request from Brackney not to feed ducks or geese in Eddy Park, since “as soon as they get a meal they will not leave.”

— Voted to send formal thanks to John Mayer of Wakefield, who donated $100 to the City to put toward beach amenities.

— Voted to waive a $3 per day vendor fee for the Buttercup Popcorn Wagon to be set up in Eddy Park by Toni Ann Anderson during fair weather summer days. A separate vote also waived the fee for vendors providing ice for park campers.

— Voted, so as “to promote camping,” to donate two “$50 off” camping certificates to the Wakefield Marenisco Athletic Club’s annual fundraiser.

— Voted to approve to pay $2,019 for the city’s 2018-2019 fiscal year membership renewal in the Michigan Municipal league.

The next city council meeting will be on June 11 at 5:30 p.m., starting with a public hearing on the 2018-2019 fiscal budget.

 
 

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