Local News

St. Clair clears the way for public parking lot on South Fifth near Pine River

Six businesses will pick up a third of the project cost

By Jim Bloch

The St. Clair City Council took a number of actions recently to clear the way for a new parking lot east of South Fifth Street near the Pine River.

Six businesses have agreed to pay for about a third of the project cost: Murphy Inn, LaCroix Riverside Tavern, Ted’s Coney Island, the Voyageur, Malane’s Marina and DeMarc Salon.

The four separate actions took place at a special meeting held Oct. 24.

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St. Clair City Attorney, James Downey
St. Clair City Attorney James Downey.

“There’s a desire … to create a public parking lot on Pine Street east of South Fifth Street,” said City Attorney Jim Downey. “In order for that to proceed, the city must vacate the public street.”

Pine Street currently forms the south boundary of the parking behind the Murphy Inn; it ends at South Fifth Street. Even though it is unbuilt, it is platted east of Fifth.

First, the council held a public hearing on the city’s proposal to vacate the unbuilt street. Nobody spoke at the hearing, which was opened and closed by Mayor Bill Cedar in less than 15 seconds.

Second, the council considered a resolution to vacate Pine Street east of South Fifth.

“An affirmative vote will allow the vacation of Pine east of Fifth and the construction of the parking lot to begin,” said Downey.

The council voted 6-0 to adopt the resolution, which included a provision by which the city retained a full easement for utilities and municipal purposes. Councilmember Jon Watt was absent.

Third, the council considered a resolution that allowed the businesses to pay their share of the construction costs, plus interest, over eight years, to be assessed on their winter tax bills.

“The cost of the parking lot is little north of $60,000,” said Downey. “The city will pay about a third, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County will contribute $20,000 and six businesses will pay about a third.”

The cost of the parking lot is projected to be $61,250.

Each business will chip in $4,307, payable on their winter tax bills, over eight years.

Downey said the city must charge the businesses the federal interest rate of 2.89 percent on what are essentially loans. The interest per business over eight years is $579 and brings the total payment of each business to $4,886.

“Do the businesses have the option of paying their amount in full?” asked council member Mitch Kuffa.

“Yes,” said Downey, “without penalty.”

“Is this a special assessment?” asked resident Bill Klieman.

“This is a single lot assessment under the city code,” said Downey.

St. Clair Mayor Pro Tem, Mike Laporte
Mayor Pro Tem Mike LaPorte.

The council adopted the resolution 5-0. LaPorte, who owns the Voyageur, abstained on orders from Downey.

Fourth, the council voted unanimously to waive the competitive bidding process and enter into a contract with Inland Water Pollution Control for $12,500 to repair a sewer line that affects the parking lot using a cured-in-place lining system.

“We’ve learned that the sewer serving the property is in need of a fix,” said City Superintendent Warren Rothe. “It would have to be done whether or not the parking lot is done.”

“How many feet?” asked Klieman.

“One hundred sixty,” said Rothe.

In September, the council hired Raymond Excavating to construct the parking for $61,500.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a parking lot by the end of the season,” said Mayor Cedar.

Jim Bloch is an award-winning freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. He writes about the environment, local politics, art, music, history and culture. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com.

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