October 21, 2014

Minimal progress being made on Standish Township developments

By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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STANDISH TOWNSHIP — The prospect of a hotel and truck stop/restaurant plaza coming to Standish Township courtesy the Migizi Corporation, a developmental entity of the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe, created quite a buzz last year, but since then little progress has been made on getting the businesses to Arenac County.

On May 21, 20008, it was first reported in the Arenac County Independent that the Migizi Corporation was planning on introducing a hotel and truck stop/restaurant to the county on M-13 in Standish Township. About six weeks later, it was reported that since water and sewer utilities were necessary for the development, the City of Standish, Standish Township and Lincoln Township were forming a franchise agreement between the three units to develop a plan on extending utilities from the city to the development area.

Since then, progress has been slow.

“We’re absolutely nowhere right now,” said Standish City Manager Mike Moran. “We’re right at the preliminary discussions right now.”

Moran added that one reason noticeable progress hasn’t come about is a feasibility study on the area developments to deduce whether or not the would be economically feasible was done by Wade-Trim, a Detroit engineering firm used by the city, and the final results of the study were just turned over to the city last December.

According to Moran, the feasibility study described various costs that would be incurred, if Wade-Trim was selected as final project engineer, of building the infrastructure needed for water and sewer utilities to extend to the developmental area. With all total costs uncovered by the study, Moran says the total is around $3 million.

“They’re (Standish, Migizi) working on their water rates. That’s the biggest thing right now,” said Lincoln Township Supervisor Dave Hertzberg. “It’s between the city and developers to get something going.”

However, Hertzberg did say the franchise is looking at helping the tribe with some of the costs of the utility infrastructure, courtesy grant monies from the tribe itself.

“We’re going to apply for 2 percent money to help with the costs, the three of us (Lincoln and Standish townships, Standish City) are,” he said, adding the utility lines may hold benefits for future Lincoln Township developments. “They’re running the water line through a mile of Lincoln Township.

“There’s quite a bit of open land through that mile.”

Hertzberg says depending on the size of the line and the cost to tap into it, future homes and businesses may want to utilize it for water.

Curt Hillman, Standish Township Supervisor, says while the businesses would be in Standish Township, since the water issue is with the city and the line would only go through roughly a quarter mile of land in Standish Township, there isn’t much action his township can take at the time.

“Basically we’ll help in any way we can,” he said. “Whatever we can do to create jobs in the area, we’re willing to do.”

Frank Cloutier, Public Relations Manager for the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe, says during phase one of the project, the 80 – 90 room hotel, approximately 80 jobs would be created by the hotel, as well as additional ones that would be created through the hotel’s construction.

“A travel plaza there would be, night and day, a huge addition to the community,” he said.

However, Cloutier says the project is still in its very early stages.

“Things are still in a conceptual phase. We don’t have architects and engineers working on the design,” he said. “We do know that it’s going to be a phased project with the hotel coming first. … We get the hotel up and we can start phase II almost immediately.”

Cloutier says phase II will be the truck stop/restaurant plaza.

He added that while it may appear progress has halted, many necessary steps are being taken to get the project off the ground.

“The (feasibility) study’s been done. We’ve streamlined the projects. The franchise agreements are in negotiations. … I think this is the most activity we’ve had and it’s been positive,” Cloutier said. “We would like to start work as soon as possible. Would it have been better if it was done six to eight months ago? Absolutely.”

Moran added that while the pace seems slow, moving too fast without having all the details in place is not an option.

“You have to work at whatever pace is necessary,” he said. “I don’t think we have any expectations that we’re going to rush through these things.”

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