County gathers public input on proposed facilities plan

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Photo by Linda Gallagher

Including Antrim County Commissioners and other county representatives, as well as a considerable number of township and village officials, more than 100 people attended Tuesday night’s forum to offer input on several proposals for the county's administrative and law enforcement facilities.

 

BELLAIRE – Coordinated by Networks Northwest facilitator Sarah Lucas, who was assisted by Andy Hayes of Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, Antrim County gathered the public's input Tuesday night regarding several proposals created earlier this year for new county facilities.

Approximately 100 interested people attended the forum – held at Meadow Brook – including Antrim County commissioners and other county representatives, along with a number of township and village officials.

Lucas began the evening by offering a brief history of the project, which actually began several years ago when security at the county administration building became a concern and it was determined that the county's jail facilities were inadequate.

Lucas went on to briefly explain the 450-page study of the county's existing facilities undertaken by consultants earlier this year. That study resulted in a number of possible options for the county to consider, which include renovating and adding on to existing buildings, as well as completely moving all county operations to an area outside of downtown Bellaire.

Several questions were asked by individuals attending the meeting that were answered before Lucas invited all attendees to write comments on the proposals and post them on several posters placed around the meeting room.

"We'd like to know what the public's preferences are about this project," she said, noting that anyone not able to attend the meeting would be able to add their input for consideration on a website created by Networks Northwest.

Asked whether the county had definitely decided to move ahead with demolition of the former Citizen's Bank building in downtown Bellaire that it purchased for $530,000 in 2017, county administrator Peter Garwood said that the decision has not yet been made, but after the building suffered damage from ice this winter, he stated, "It appears that the Board of Commissioners are moving in that direction."

After asking about the suitability of county-owned property on M-88 across from Meadow Brook that has been proposed as a possible location for new county facilities, Custer Township resident Bob Ricksgers was told by a representative of Byce and Associates (the consultants who completed the study last winter) that, although new soil borings were not done, study of soil borings done in the past did not show anything that would not be considered suitable for construction.

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