EDITOR:I recently turned to Channel 20 and saw Steve Mariucci speaking to the Iron Mountain City Council.
Steve Mariucci and Tom Izzo have done a wonderful job on fundraisers at annual auctions for charities, a scholarship, and the beautiful Izzo-Mariucci Center at the high school. They are heroes for their hometown of Iron Mountain.
When Steve first came to Iron Mountain and announced his plans to build a three-phase complex worth $22 to $24 million on the north side, I was flabbergasted. I was all for him building an event center, a hotel, upscale condos, a shopping mall, and a restaurant. He said that we should "think big. I love this city; it's my hometown."
When he spoke, I found out whose money he wanted to spend - our tax money. On Steve's advice, TIFA spent $875,000 to buy the Khoury property and reportedly made a verbal promise to sell it to him for $582,000, subject to a written agreement between him and the city. To this day the agreement has not been completed, despite the deadline of Dec. 31, 2007.
That was just the start.
My understanding of the proposed development, based on what's been presented to the city:
In addition, the developers want the taxpayers to put in an $800,000 lighted, paved parking lot. They also want TIFA to buy the railroad property for our $800,000, again with our tax dollars, and sell it to them for $200,000 - and put in water and sewer lines.
The hotel part of the plan has already been deemed unfeasible in a study, according to Steve.
The developers want the city to apply for a $1 million to $1.5 million dollar grant with no guarantee. Such a grant would be dependent on a certain number of jobs for a set period. If the plan does not proceed or the jobs are not created and maintained, the city could be responsible for repaying the grant.
There has been no specific mention of investors and what they or Steve are putting into this development.
I'm sure Steve probably doesn't realize all this, and I know he's a decent, good person, but this could be a debacle of great proportions. Convention centers never pay for themselves.
I wonder if Iron Mountain could add another big tax burden. This has to be looked at seriously. We don't want to go down the wrong path.
On Aug. 5, Michigan voters will have the opportunity to vote in one of the least know races in Michigan.
Michael J. Kelly is running for the Court of Appeals in the non-partisan section of the ballot. You must go to the Judicial section of your ballot to cast your vote for this office.
Mr Kelly is a lifelong resident of Michigan and has been a resident of Leelanau County for eight years. He has been a practicing attorney handling cases in courtrooms all across Michigan for the last 20 years.
He has been in the courtrooms from where the appeals arise, has the knowledge of Michigan law and knows what takes place in the courtroom and during a trial.
This, combined with an extensive appellate background that includes dozens of appeals in the Michigan Court of Appeals, Supreme Court and Federal Courts, makes Michael J. Kelly the right choice for the Court of Appeals.
Mike Kelly has more experience in appearing before the Michigan Court of Appeals than any of the candidates running for this office.
Remember to turn your ballot to the judicial races. If you vote a "straight ticket" alone, you have not voted for judges.