Monday, April 9, 2012

This ‘n That and a Tale Of Two Kings

About Pentoga Trail:

On March 22, 2012 I attended a conversation about education,
k-12, at the George Young Complex in partnership with The
Center for Michigan. That event is engendering another article.
This one has to do with a road I took while going to that
meeting, Pentoga Trail.
I had used that street before, but hadn’t noticed what, to me, is
normal, that being a “good road.” Unfortunately it is an unusual
state for a road in Iron County. Pentoga Trail isn’t anything like
Lynx Lane, or heaven forbid FFH 16 that was completely
repaved just a few years ago, let alone Old Beechwood road
that residents have been waiting some 28 years to get fixed.
No indeed, that’s a smooth road from one end to the other, and
not a single bump or dip did I encounter.

Of course there’s a possible explanation for the wonderful state
of the road. A former Iron County Road Commission chairman,
John Archocosky, just happens to live there. Could there be any
connection between the quality of the pavement and the
status of the individuals who reside there?

See also:

That said, we leave it to the readers to decide.

Building a Blight:

So the three story building at the corner of Genesee and Third
Avenue is experiencing an “Act of God” deterioration and
crumbling of the facade above the third story.

The recent photo in this article shows that there was an
infiltration of water that apparently froze and cracked some
of the bricks, which then fell. The City of Iron River has
determined that this represents a blighted building under
ordinance 91.16. The City Attorney, in a council meeting of March
21, 2012, suggested that the current owner might bankrupt or
otherwise transfer ownership of the building.

Well why wouldn’t they? This is a reasonably good 3 story
building that could have rental apartments on the upper two
levels, except for some very narrow minded for actions by the
City of Iron River that make reasonable use of the property
impossible. That solution could be simple enough, but the City
refuses to acknowledge its culpability in the continuing
deterioration of the downtown. It appears that despite the lip
service given to improving the downtown (as expressed in the
Cool Cities project, which see) it is anti-business whenever the
slightest inconvenience to the city appears.

This building would be well maintained if economic viability
were made possible by designating some parking areas as
available for overnight parking to downtown residents and their
guests. If the Iron River City Council and the City Manager
weren’t so narrow minded and obstinate, the downtown could
be much more inhabited and at least have a chance of economic
redevelopment instead of experiencing the deterioration that
presently has buildings being sequentially torn down.

The only reason for the ongoing deterioration apparent to your
humble correspondent is that the City of Iron River would
actually prefer a completely vacant downtown, otherwise the
city would take those steps, within its power, that are
necessary to redevelopment, economic growth, and vitality of
the downtown.

This building is not the only evidence of the anti-business
mindset of the City Manager and the City Council. Recently
David Sankey, who operates an auto repair business on
Washington Avenue up on the hill, approached the City
Council the second time in a year to ask that the two hour
parking restriction be removed.

On 10/19/2011, the minutes of the meeting report that, “Dave
Sankey, owner of K&D Service, requested the Council lift the
two hour parking restrictions on Washington Avenue. Manager
Archocosky will meet with Chief Mike Goriesky and report back
to the Council.” Subsequent meeting minutes of the city council
indicate that the promise was not kept, or, at the very least, not
reported in meeting minutes.

Sankey returned to another meeting later and asked again. The
ensuing discussion indicated that the restriction had been
created so that employees of the “Call Center” would not park
on the street, and that since no one other than Mr. Sankey had
complained, the restrictions would remain.

Here’s the simple fact. The two hour parking restriction was
not emplaced on Washington Avenue as a consequence of any
actual problems in the area caused by all day parking, it was
brought about because the City thought that perhaps there
might be a problem at some time in the future.

Now that an exactly opposite difficulty has been brought to
the City Council’s attention by an individual who has actually
invested his time and money into operating a business within
the city limits, but the City Council has determined that its
suspicion that there might be a problem in permitting all day
parking as it does almost everywhere else in the city should
prevail rather than seeing what problems might develop and
addressing them should any real problems actually occur.

So if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and talks like a
duck, it probably is a duck! Similarly, the parking restrictions ,
as they exist, must surely be an anti-business strategy because
we cannot discover any other reasonably rational possibility!

Given the long term close relationship between the current (soon
to be ex) City Manager and the Michigan Economic Development
Corporation, the Iron County Economic Development
Corporation, and the Michigan Municipal League,
Mr. Archocosky must surely be conversant with the municipal
practices that yield successful municipal strategies, and apparently
none have been implemented in the City of Iron River during his
tenure as City Manager. We have only to look at the ongoing
deterioration of the downtown and recognize the negative growth
that has taken place there under Archocosky's tutelage.

Once again, we leave it to the readers to decide the truth of this

A King Tale #1:

Your humble correspondent recently attended the Iron County
Board of Commissioners special meeting that approved a
municipal bond for the Iron County Medical Care Facility. Since
the population of Iron County is aging at a rate faster than the
average for the rest of the nation, we need to improve and expand
this resource.

Just before the close of the meeting, Chairman Wales reported
that all prior difficulties with the Iron County Fair Board had
been resolved. Once the meeting was adjourned, former chair,
and current board member, Rosalie King verbally attacked Mr.
Wales by repeating some of the allegations that had been the
topic of published advertising supporting her as part of the recent
recall election Mrs. King and her cohorts had undertaken, and lost,
against Mr. Wales.

The election is over. Mrs. King’s faction failed to unseat Mr. Wales
at the polls, and lost by a good margin. Votes to retain Wales
amounted to 381 while votes to unseat him were 237. It is our
opinion that Mrs. King is a sore loser who needs to work with the
rest of the county board to benefit those who elected her to that
position rather than to continue the grammar school caliber
theatrics and useless infighting I witnessed after the meeting.

King Tale #2:

Tom King is Rosalie’s son, former county dogcatcher, and
currently holds the position of City Councilman in Iron River.
He was elected in a three way split of votes amounting to 6, 5,
and 4 votes for the candidates vieing for the position. In his place
I would have had the personal pride to decline the seat under
those circumstances because there was no clear simple majority.

Because I own property in the neighborhood Tom King lives in,
I pass by his home frequently. Recently I noted that he is
violating some provisions of the blight ordinance, section 91. See
the relevant photo.

“No person shall maintain or permit to be maintained
any of the following cause of blight or blighting factors
upon any property in the city, owned, leased, rented,
or occupied by the person”


“Storage of junk, refuse, and the like in residential
areas. In any area zoned for residential purposes, the
storage or accumulation of junk, junk motor vehicles,
trash, rubbish, or refuse of any kind, except domestic
refuse stored in a manner as not to create a nuisance”

Defined: “JUNK MOTOR VEHICLE. Shall include,
without limitation, a motor vehicle which is incapable
of being self-propelled upon the public streets, or which
does not meet the requirements for operation upon the
public streets, including a current license.”

The photo provides all the necessary evidence. So
does the city provide special treatment for elected
officials? Let’s see how long this particular blight

Bill Vajk

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