Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Reinventing Elberta
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Reinventing Elberta

Danielle Horvath - November 30th, 2006
The renovation of an industrial wasteland is sure to be the talk of Northern Michigan in 2007 when the small town of Elberta undergoes one of the largest waterfront renovation projects to be seen in the region in years.
For this sleepy town on the Lake Michigan coast, the project invites comparisons (albeit on a much smaller level) with that of Bay Harbor in Petoskey with the creation of an extensive residential and marina project on 30 desirable waterfront acres.
Many in the area believe the development will mean Elberta’s return to the glory days of its past with the addition of 300 new jobs and $100 million in private investment.
For over 100 years, Elberta was the industrial hub of Benzie County. Known as South Frankfort until the early 1900s, Elberta’s deepwater port was home to the Ann Arbor railroad car ferries for nearly a century.
Yet, during the 1970s, it was apparent the ferries’ days were numbered, and when the last ship left in 1982, Elberta lost its economic base, its major employer, and much of its population. The area went into economic shock.

Now, Elberta is bouncing back, thanks to the renovation of 30 acres of abandoned commercial property, including one of the last undeveloped sites along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
The vacated property includes 12 former asphalt storage tanks, a railroad roundhouse and freight dock, a cannery and auto repair shop. All will soon be removed to make way for a major redevelopment.
Scott Gest, whose company, Elberta Land Holding Company (ELHC) bought the former Koch Materials Company facility last year, did their homework and presented a plan for the redevelopment that includes multi-family condos, townhouses, a marina, a public pier off the park and 140 boat slips.
Gest brought in planners, engineers, and other professionals who met with the people of Elberta to determine the vision for the development of the waterfront.
“It takes time to develop a sense of what a community wants, and patience to see the long term,” Gest said. “We’ve been working on these ideas for over seven years, and are working to preserve the landscape, the historic significance, the environmental quality and create jobs.”

The area is being reclaimed as part of a Brownfield redevelopment project to address environmental concerns and move ahead with development of three of Elberta’s waterfront areas.
Brownfield properties are vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected environmental contamination.
“We are in the process of the first stage of demolition,” Gest said. “We had to first remove what was left of the asphalt in some of the tanks, and then we’ve been held up by windy weather, but work is proceeding. We expect the tanks will be down by the end of the year.”
The dozen tanks vary in size from 30,000 gallons to four million gallons, on about 10.5 acres at the west end of the village along Betsie Bay and Lake Michigan. When the storage facility was active a few years ago, under Koch, deliveries of up to 28 barge loads of petroleum products came to the Elberta plant from an Indiana refinery. Trucks would begin rumbling through the village in the early morning hours and continue all day long. Residents became used to the smell emitted from the facility.
“We’ve always had the vision that the tanks would come down. We’re thrilled that it’s finally happening,” said Laura Manville, village treasurer.
The clean-up project also will help preserve a portion of the old railroad roundhouse, which was built in the 1800s. The hope is to transform part of the historic structure into retail space.
“The roundhouse is in pretty bad shape,” said Gest, “We are hoping to save as much of the limestone and brick walls as possible.”
Construction is slated to begin in early 2007 in the Marina District, which is near where the old Mitchell building was. The boathouse residences will include seven condos with a deli and lounge, catering to the marina.
“The entire development is projected to be 15-20 years, and will change a long-held industrial site into an improved and useable site. We’re here for the long run,” Gest added.

The new development comes on the heels of a waterfront upgrade undertaken by the village.
In the fall of 1996, after 13 years of negotiations with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Village of Elberta purchased 21.5 acres of the deserted Ann Arbor Railroad Terminal Yard on Betsie Bay in the village limits to develop an eight-acre waterfront park. Work on the park began in 2000 and since its completion it has become a focal point for festivals and celebrations.
The park includes the relocated U.S. Coast Guard Life Saving Station, a playground, and outdoor pavilion for open air concerts, restrooms, parking and a boardwalk along Betsie Bay.
“We have been surprised by the amount of gatherings that the Life Saving Station has been used for, from family reunions to lots of weddings, to graduation open houses, it is rented most weekends all summer,” said Elberta Village Clerk Sharon Bower.
The park allows public access to Betsie Bay and provides a scenic view of the City of Frankfort’s waterfront.
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