Deliveries Are Concern on French Lane

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By Jane Alexander

A request to amend an ordinance to allow carriages to drive through the northern portion of French Lane was denied following discussion at a meeting of the Streets and Public Safety committees Wednesday, July 1, but the committee will recommend that special arrangements can be made with police for drays to access the area for certain deliveries.

In response to a request made at the June 20 city council meeting by French Lane property owner Jennifer Griffin, the committee met to discuss the possibility of amending an ordinance made in 2006 prohibiting any horse-drawn vehicles from driving on French Lane north of its intersection with Squires Lane.

At the city council meeting, Ms. Griffin said, because of the ordinance, she has no trash pick-up, taxis cannot drop people off at her house, and she is struggling to improve her property because she cannot receive freight deliveries.

The committees received two letters in response to Ms. Griffin's request for an amendment, saying the lane is not wide enough for carriage traffic and that Mackinac Island Service Company trash haulers have walked the northern half of the lane to pick up trash.

Several community members were present at the committee meeting to voice their concerns.

"When you see how many people come up there, how many babies and old people, you can't have carriages come down a small lane like that," said Phyllis Dunham. "It's just a lane, it's not a street."

The committee said a dray could be sent down French Lane if arrangements are made with the police department in advance. The police department would also have to decide which types of delivery would warrant a carriage on French Lane.

"Groceries or everyday things wouldn't count," Police Chief Jim Marks said at the meeting. "But if you're having a bigscreen TV delivered, or if you're having supplies or a handicap taxi brought up, that would work."

Committee member Jason St. Onge noted that carriages do not use Gallagher Road, either, because there is no room to turn around.

"Everyone that lives down there now is at the mercy of that alley," he said. "They've got to haul everything by hand - garbage, recyclables, groceries, whatever. Everybody's got to haul it by hand, so there's really not a matter of it can't be done. It's just inconvenient."

French Lane resident Jeff Shaffer agreed, noting that Mrs. Dunham carried her own groceries to her residence at the north section of French Lane.

The committee also discussed the idea that carriages be allowed on French Lane for delivery and taxi service only heading north on the street, as the turn would be easier for carriages to make from Main Street up than from Market Street down.

The committee finally decided to recommend that the city council write Ms. Griffin a letter explaining that it will make no changes to the ordinance at this time, but that she may contact the police department to make arrangements when she needs a dray, or other service, brought to her property.

The committees also addressed a complaint of bicycle rental and repair businesses placing bicycles in the middle of streets or blocking sidewalk curb-cuts meant for pedestrian access. Chief Marks said the police department will speak with the business owners.

The police department's spare vehicles were also discussed. The department presently uses a new 2009 Ford Explorer, shipped from the mainland July 1. The department also has a back-up 2002 vehicle, stored on the Island, and a 1993 vehicle stored in St. Ignace. The committee agreed that the 1993 vehicle should be sold, but could not reach a decision about what to do with the 2002 vehicle. Chief Marks said he thinks the vehicle should be kept for emergencies, in case there is a problem with the primary vehicle. He also suggested storing the spare vehicle on the Island in the wintertime as a back-up for the operating vehicle.

"I think it's a bad idea to sell the second vehicle," he said, "because you never know what's going to happen. Whoever thought we'd have a 2000 blackout here on the Island? So how do I know what's going to happen to the vehicle? We could have a tree fall on the car, we could have a fire truck back into the vehicle, we could have anything happen over here, and then we're out of a vehicle for a long period of time" during the winter.

Streets Committee chair Armand "Smi" Horn recommended selling the 2002 vehicle, also, and added that, in the past, in the event of a problem with the police department's vehicle, a vehicle from the fire department or the department of public works has been used.

The committee agreed to put the 1993 vehicle up for bids, but to wait until a later meeting to decide if the 2002 spare vehicle should be sold.

Chief Marks added that money will be taken from the department's vehicle maintenance repair fund for universal joint repairs to the 2002 vehicle, which are estimated to cost $380. Another $250 will be spent to put striping and decals on the new vehicle.

Ambulance corps member Sam Barnwell reported at the end of the meeting that Allied Emergency Medical Systems, which provides the Island with emergency medical service, is in desperate need of new EMTs. Training is costly, particularly with the expense of students flying back and forth from the Island, and there is a high turnover rate, as many EMTs leave for other jobs. Mr. Barnwell asked that the city contribute to student instruction on the mainland or help pay an instructor to come to the Island. No action was taken on his request at the meeting.

2009-07-11 / Top News

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