Tawas City Council Releases Letter of Support for Flagship Pavilion Project |
TAWAS CITY – Tawas City Mayor Ken Cook has signed a letter of support for a project led by the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park. The submission of the letter and the approval of the proposed commitment were approved by members of the city council, among other measures, at their January 17 meeting.
The nonprofit group of friends is seeking to erect a 34-foot by 40-foot pavilion at Tawas Point State Park in East Tawas, north of the gift shop. They note that currently there is no covered area near the lighthouse that can be used for shade, shelter from rain or heat, picnics, programs or events.
According to their presentation file which describes the plans for the project, the existing pavilion – located near the beach and containing bathrooms and showers – is used by beach visitors, resulting in little privacy for those who rent it for events. Additionally, the large canvas tent owned by the park and deployed for events has suffered significant damage over the years and needs to be replaced. It is also difficult to set up and requires several staff members.
But the new handicap-accessible pavilion would be low-maintenance and feature multiple electrical outlets, as well as the availability of lights for evening use.
The first phase of the plan would include a solid wall on the north side of the structure. In future phases, the plan allows for the installation of more walls and doors to enclose the space, giving it four-season functionality.
Friends representatives say the proposed site is adjacent to the paved driveway between the campground and the lighthouse, and is easily accessible from the day parking lot.
The pavilion would be under the management of the Department of Parks and Recreation for rental and maintenance.
The approximate cost for the first phase is $70,000, as of fall 2021, and the Friends of Tawas Point Lighthouse and State Park have already earmarked $10,000 for this from their Special Projects Fund. . They will also solicit grants and solicit support from local businesses and residents.
The group said the plans have been submitted to the appropriate government agencies for final approval. The timing will depend on the completion of site surveys and the availability of adequate funding.
The pitch deck says Tawas Point State Park sees approximately 300,000 visitors each year, and non-resident visitors are a major source of revenue for nearby businesses.
They add that notable features and activities include the historic Tawas Point Lighthouse, bird and wildlife watching, geology, kitesurfing, sandy beaches, hiking trails, camping facilities and shipwrecks.
In addition to being a resource for private events and those sponsored by entities such as the Friends group and the Department of Natural Resources, benefits listed in the package include generating revenue for the state park, renting the space for private parties.
Unique photography options due to the unobstructed view of the lighthouse are also among the perks, as are impromptu uses like a shady spot for picnics; a nice place to wait for scheduled lighthouse tours to begin; meeting friends or family; and a place to ‘gear up’ for winter events.
For more information, including a sponsorship form with different donor level options, visit www.tawaslighthousefriends.com. The website also has a video of the project plan slides. Questions/comments can be directed to [email protected] or by calling 545-1421.
As for the letter on behalf of Tawas City, it was approved in support of the Friends’ Consumers Energy Foundation grant application.
“This project will provide a whole new reason for the public to return to visit the Lighthouse area and Tawas Point to learn about the unique and special history, arts, recreation and cultural opportunities found there,” reads -we in part.
“The number of visitors that have been and will continue to be drawn to our area through this additional community project will help a variety of businesses, parks, restaurants, etc. of the region not just to survive, but to thrive, after all everyone has been during the phases of the Covid pandemic,” the letter continues.
The correspondence submission was approved by a vote of 6 to 0, Councilor Chuck Klenow – who was excused from the meeting – not being present for medical reasons.
In other cases, officials have approved the appointment and reappointment of several representatives to various boards, authorities and commissions.
According to Tawas City Manager Annge Horning, those whose term will expire have received letters and been asked to inform the town hall if they wish to be reappointed. She added that there were also vacancies in the city planning commission, the city center development authority (DDA), the brownfields redevelopment authority, the building authority and review board.
The city charter states that the mayor must appoint members to groups such as those above, subject to council approval.
For the planning commission, there is a three-year term expiring March 31, 2025, and Tracy Stevelinck has expressed that she would like to be considered for another term.
There is also a vacancy on the commission, expiring on January 31, 2023, for which Jeff Bower has submitted an application to be filled.
As noted, the position was left vacant following the recent resignation of Butch Short.
On the review board, there is a three-year term expiring January 31, 2025, and Cyndi Blust noted that she would like to be considered for another term.
This board also has one vacancy expiring on January 31, 2023; another vacant position expiring on January 31, 2024; and another vacancy expiring on January 31, 2025.
With the building authority, a three-year term will expire on July 2, 2025, and Ronald Gavenda would like to continue in that position.
The authority also has a vacancy, which is due to expire on July 2, 2023.
There are two three-year terms on the zoning appeals board that will expire on March 31, 2025. Kim Leet would like to be considered for another term on the board, unlike Jeff Coon.
“So he would drop off, and that would leave a spot open,” Cook pointed out.
As for the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, there are two three-year terms expiring April 2, 2025. Jeffrey Chadwick does not want to be considered for another term, but Mary Doak has noted that she would like to stay for another term.
The authority also has two vacancies, one of which will expire on April 2, 2023 and the other on April 2, 2024.
In his background note for the meeting, Horning said there were also four DDA vacancies.
A motion by Councilor Jackie Masich to approve the reappointments/appointments of Stevelinck, Bower, Blust, Gavenda, Leet and Doak was seconded by Councilor Mike Russo and approved by a vote of 6-0.
Cook encouraged officials to think about people who could potentially fill some of the vacancies, stressing that vacancies — including several on the review board — need to be filled.
Tawas Town Clerk/Treasurer Michelle Westcott added that two representatives on the Review Committee are alternates. “There are only three members in total. We have two at the moment. So if someone gets sick, we don’t even have a quorum to achieve.
“Good,” Cook agreed. “So we really need a review board.”
For those interested in filling any of the vacancies listed above, applications are available through Tawas City Hall, 550 W. Lake St. (US-23), or at tawascity.org, in the “Forms” section of the website.