Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

March 25, 2014

Power Island costs lower, other questions remain

TRAVERSE CITY — A Grand Traverse County official over-inflated potential savings that could be realized if another entity agreed to take over county-owned Power Island.

Grand Traverse County Commissioner Larry Inman said he "threw out" a $100,000 expense estimate last week while discussing a proposal to shift control of Power Island park to Peninsula Township in an effort to save money.

Records show the county spent closer to $35,000 on the West Grand Traverse Bay island in 2013, and collected about $5,000 in revenues from the park.

Inman said savings from renouncing the park would still add up over time.

"It’s not a lot of savings, but over time, if you count 10 years, that’s $300,000," Inman said.

Several important questions about officials' Power Island proposal remain unanswered, including whether Peninsula Township or other units of government are interested in the property, and whether deeds to the land allow an entity besides the county to take over the park's operations or ownership.

Peninsula Township Treasurer David Weatherholt said the township's full board learned about the county's proposal during a budget meeting Monday. Weatherholt said not many township board members are "warm to the idea" of taking over the park.

"We can use it now and we wouldn't have to pay for it," Weatherholt said.

Peninsula Township's Parks Commission has a budget of about $122,000 this year. The $30,000 or so Power Island cost the county last year would eat up a significant chunk of that amount, Weatherholt said.

Parks and Recreation Commission President Alisa Kroupa said the Power Island proposal resulted from county officials asking leaders from every department to try and find ways to provide the same services for citizens at a lower cost.

"That's what we are doing," she said.

Kroupa and Inman said the proposal is in its infancy while officials pin down park expenses and any possible restrictions in the island's deed.

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