Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Wakefield City Council agrees to sell unneeded properties


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Wakefield - Members of the Wakefield City Council voted on Monday evening to approve a newly created policy for the disposition of city-owned surplus property.

City Manager Rob Brown, who developed the new policy after studying similar plans by other municipalities, said the city has roughly 89 such properties on its roster.

He added that many of them should be kept, but also assured that some of them could be sold.

"We know our charter allows us to acquire property and to dispose of property, but how to do that is not really clear," he said while explaining why an official policy was needed.

The vote to approve the new policy, effective immediately, was unanimous. Only Council Member Scott Heikkila was absent.

The city manager said that he will prepare a few properties to post for sale as soon as possible.

Brown concluded that he hopes, hereon, for the city's planning commission to check the roster annually to assess what properties can be sold.

In other news, the council voted to hire Robert Blaskowski to a new position as the city's hearing officer.

Mayor Dale White, who recommended Blaskowski, said the new position is necessary in order to move forward with any blight issues in the city.

"I'd like to thank Robert for being willing to do this," said Mayor Pro Tempore Amy Tarro.

White said he hopes that the city now will be able to take action on several problem structures by the end of the year. One of the biggest concerns is a structure that collapsed at 512 Sunday Lake St. during the past winter.

"I've already been doing some research on this topic," said Blaskowski, who once served on the council and was raised in this region. He added that he's "ready to go."

Council members also:

-Learned from Brown that - at some point in the future - internet services at the Eddy Park Campground may be upgraded in relation to the possibility of using Charter Communications of Ironwood. Brown said that if the city purchases the needed equipment to make the change, it would be possible to operate it from the municipal building. According to the city manager, the change could facilitate more reliable connections, as well as "substantially faster" internet speeds than what are now available.

-Voted to authorize the planning commission to review zoning codes that Brown reported as "incredibly outdated" or "superseded by state and federal law." He recommended that the following codes, which date back to the '70s, be addressed first: construction, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, fire prevention and blight. "It's about time," said council member Kay Wiita.

-Learned from Brown that he believes mowing of blighted properties, which so far have been done by city staff, should be contracted out to a local lawn care company. He said he will advertise bids for such service.

-Learned from Brown that Steve Hamilton, president of the Gogebic Range Trail Authority, is interested in creating an ATV track for kids in the Split Rocks Trails region of Section 10. The city manager said that he anticipates a "very safe" and "low-impact" system.

Although the previous city meeting had been held in the municipal building after weeks of virtual sessions, Monday's meeting again returned to Webex. Toward the end of June, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended until July 31 a state order that allows governmental bodies to meet electronically during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The council's next meeting will be on July 27 at 5:30 p.m. This session also will be virtual, so anyone wishing to attend should call the municipal building at 906-229-5131 for access information.