By NIKKI YOUNK
QUINNESEC - The future of the old Quinnesec Mine, commonly known as the Devil's Icebox, is in question, as members of the Breitung Township Board of Trustees review their options for the property.
Dickinson County Mine Inspector Steve Smith recently informed the township that the fencing around the mine is in poor condition and creates a safety hazard.
"Regardless of the future plans for the site, the fences must be put back into a secure, vertical position," Smith said in a letter to Breitung Township Superintendent Joe Rogina. "I would like to see this work started yet this year and completed next year at the latest."
During their Monday meeting, township board members learned that although the Devil's Icebox property was deeded to the township in 2006, there was a reverter clause. The clause states that if the township does not maintain the property, it will revert back to owners Richard and Anne Hansen after five years.
According to Rogina, the township attorney determined that the property indeed reverted back to the Hansens in 2011.
However, Rogina noted that the Devil's Icebox property had been part of the township's five-year recreation plan for 2016. Preliminary plans were to try to obtain Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant money to develop a historic walking trail, observation and recreation area, proper fencing, trails, and a parking area.
The township's planning commission has recommended that the board try to retain the property for these uses.
In light of the information about the reverter clause, Rogina asked board members how they would like to proceed.
Supervisor Denny Olson felt that the board should first talk with the Hansens.
"They worked with us then, they were very good to grant us this piece," he said. "At the time, there was interest in doing something."
Treasurer Carol Taylor asked if there was still public interest in developing the property.
According to Breitung Township Fire Department Chief Jeff Iverson, there are still college classes that come to look at the site.
Trustee Ben Peterson was concerned about the township's liability if someone got hurt on the property.
"It's a unique piece, but we might be opening a can of worms by developing it," he said.
Trustee Mary Beth Dixon suggested that the board "do its homework" before making any firm decisions.
The board did not take any official action, but did direct Rogina to contact the township attorney about liability issues and to contact the Hansens.
In other business, the board:
- Discussed a proposed noxious weeds and tall grass ordinance for the township. The issue will be brought up again at the board's Nov. 25 meeting.
- Accepted Town & Country Sales' bid of $4,770 to provide a new pickup truck mounted sander/spreader unit to the township. The only other bid submitted was $4,705 from Badger Auto. Although Badger Auto's bid was $65 lower, the board opted to go with Town & Country because it is located within the township and its bid was prematurely announced at a previously meeting.
- Accepted the Kingsford Dairy Queen's high bid of $2,750 to purchase the township's used Boss plow. There were six other bids submitted.
- Approved to send revisions of the proposed garbage ordinance to the township attorney for review.
- Authorized board members to attend the Michigan Township Association annual conference in January.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.