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Houghton Citizens, Council Clash Over Lakeshore Drive Redevelopment

Tension over the proposed Lakeshore Drive redevelopment ran high at last night’s Houghton City Council meeting.

A packed house in the council chamber heard citizen after citizen criticize what they perceive to be a rush to tear down the existing parking deck, and sell the property to a developer. Fifth and Elm Coffee Shop owner Frank Fiala spoke on behalf of 13 business owners adjacent to the deck…

Dave Bach represented a group of citizens that has recently begun meeting to influence the process. He brought two demands…

Bach then requested that each council member go on the record with their individual responses to the demands.

Mayor Bob Backon said the exploratory committee has already been expanded in that fashion…

Several council members expressed their frustration with members of the public who seem to think critical decisions have already been made… that haven’t been made at all. Councilor Buck Foltz…

Mike Needham echoed concerns that many of the objections are based on false information…

Rachel Lankton noted that the city has a history of transparency in major projects…

Dan Salo resented the implications that council members may have some ulterior motive…

A large crowd at the Houghton Council meeting listens to discussion about the Lakeshore Drive project.

Council members then reiterated where the project is. A developer – the Veridea Group out of Marquette – has been selected to confer with the city on potential uses for the property. Only exploratory meetings have been held with Veridea. No specific building or site plan has ever been proposed, considered, or approved. No decision has been made to sell the property, or to make any changes to the parking deck.

In the end, the council voted to let the existing nine-person Lakeshore Drive Committee continue to work with Veridea to explore ideas, and also committed to making sure the public will have the opportunity to review and comment on any results from that effort.

The members of the Lakeshore Drive Committee are:
– Dick Gray, Tom Merz, John Sullivan, Eric Waara (the original four that handled exploratory work)
– Buck Foltz, Michelle Jarvie-Eggart, Alan Kiley, Elise Nelson, Bruce Rundman (added once the decision was made to explore options with the Veridia Group)

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