ALPENA - Sam Eiler's time as an Alpena Municipal Council member is winding down, but his love and devotion for Alpena will remain strong after his days involved in city government end.
Eiler served on the council for 10 years, many of which as mayor pro tem. He said he has reached the point where he would like to focus his time and attention on family and other things dear to him.
"It just feels like the time is right," Eiler said. "I'm a little tired after 10 years and I'm not as young as I used to be. There are things I want to do outside of council like go to Florida for a month or two in the winter for a long time and haven't been able to. I feel really good about the council and it was really an easy decision."
During his tenure Eiler has seen the city go through rough patches and is now witnessing its bounce back. He said there have been many difficult decisions that needed to be made over the years, and more in the near future, but he is confident the current council is up to the challenge. He said when he was appointed to sit on the council he was committed to doing what was best for the community.
"I didn't come on the council with any sort of an agenda," Eiler said. "It has felt good to be part of a process that is trying to make a community better. I have tried to be prepared every time there was a meeting and did my due diligence. I did the best I could with the information I had. I think during my time on the council we managed to do a lot of good things for Alpena.
Eiler cited the improvements to Starlite Beach as one of the things he is proud of getting accomplished. He said it took a collection of partners and grants to make the plan a reality and keeping it affordable.
"The beach is one of the jewels in Alpena's crown and it needs to look and be the best it can," Eiler said. "That was about a $400,000 project that we worked collaborated with other groups and organizations with. In the end it only cost the city a little more than $80,000. I'm proud of that and I can't see how anyone could see that as superfluous."
Over the last year council has undergone a facelift and there will be three members who have served a year or less. Mike Nowak and Susan Nielsen have been on council for a year and Cindy Johnson will begin her first term in January. Eiler said having a new perspective and fresh ideas on the council will be a good thing.
"I thought I offered a new look at things when I came on council and now with new types of experiences and points of view coming on council we may think of things we may not have thought about before," Eiler said. "I don't think it would be good to have all new people at once, but we have some experience with Shawn Sexton and Mayor (Matt) Waligora. I think the council is a good diverse group right now."
Eiler said there are several things he would like to see addressed by the council moving forward. He said he would like to see an effort made to better control the smell emitted from DPI. He said it is unattractive to people visiting and those who may consider moving to Alpena. He said he also wants to see the growth in downtown continue. He said there are still to many vacant buildings that need businesses in them.
"I want to see a more vibrant downtown, with more reason to go down there," Eiler said. "Maybe building the plaza will help that, but right now the next council will have to deal with where to put it. Right now there are a lot of reasons to go downtown, just not a lot of reasons to stay for two or three hours. We need to find a way to get people to do that."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.