I commend Alpena Municipal Council for considering public expansion of the waterfront.
This week city officials shared they are close to finalizing a deal to acquire the Beach Motel along US-23 South, right behind Starlite Beach. Once acquired, the motel would be razed - providing yet more public view of the beach and waterfront to the public.
As is so often the case in such situations, the decision was not necessarily an easy one.
Council had to weigh the advantage of spending money for the acquisition and gaining extra access to the water, versus the reality of a tight budget and dwindling financial assistance coming their way from Lansing.
At least two members -Mayor Matt Waligora and Councilman Mike Nowak - admitted to initially being skeptical about the purchase, but after further research, changed their minds.
"I wasn't a huge fan of the purchase from the beginning, but I spent some time down in that area and there really will be a noticeable difference in the view of the park and beachfront," Waligora told council Monday. "When I envisioned what it would look like without it, that is what kind of sold me on the idea."
The same was true of Nowak.
"I wasn't (initially) interested in the purchase, but I am interested in continuing to developing the waterfront," he said. "... It will make the beach area that much nicer."
I appreciate both men's honesty in sharing those impressions. Each started with a perspective but kept open-minded on the subject, and each ultimately changed his opinion after gathering more input and understanding.
As I see it, that is democracy working at its very best.
Michigan residents are blessed to have more public access to land and water than residents in most states. Thanks to strong planning and vision by our ancestors, we can enjoy those properties in just about every corner of the state.
Alpena city officials long have tried to do their part as well in making land accessible for everyone. Sometimes they have been successful in acquiring property, sometimes not. Sometimes they have pursued opportunities, sometimes not.
I like the fact all of us are one step closer today to having even more of a view of Thunder Bay as we drive by Starlite Beach in the future.
I like that vision. I like that legacy they are leaving for years after each has left office.
Tough decisions never are easy. I believe in this instance, council is making the right call.
At first I was troubled by the number of private businesses that were blocking off their parking areas on the Fourth.
However, after stopping at one business Friday morning that left open its parking to the public on the Fourth, I believe now I understand. The parking lot was riddled with litter and remnants of fireworks.
Alpena puts on the best Fourth of July event anywhere, but all of us need to do our part to keep it that way. Enjoy activities, but pick up after yourself when they're over.
Let's keep Alpena the sanctuary of the Great Lakes.