Water and sewer utilities on Four Mile Road will spur additional industrial growth
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Along with cutting edge industrial and educational facilities in the Grayling area comes new state-of-the-art utilities to allow those entities to operate.
The Beaver Creek-Grayling Townships Utility Authority received a $3.2 million grant from the United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, plus a $4.1 million United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service low-interest loan to provide water and waste water utilities for the Arauco mill.
The $400 million plant, which will employ between 200 and 250 when it is fully operational, will begin production soon.
The water and sewer systems started operating in January.
The water system features gravity fed 750,000-gallon storage tanks on a hill with 12-inch water line. It is capable of providing 90 pounds per square inch of water to Arauco’s pump houses. The overall system can disperse 76,000 gallons of water in the event of a fire.
Arauco prompted the need for the two townships to forge forward with developing the utility services to accommodate future growth in the community.
“It’s what they wanted,” Grayling Charter Township Supervisor Lacey Stephan III said. “It’s municipal water, but fire suppression system is the big deal. That would have cost them a small fortune to get that.”
Water and sewer service is also being provided to the Kirtland Community College’s Health Sciences Center. The college is also building a $10 million Michigan Forest Products Institute on the same campus.
Stephan said the utilities will draw more industry to the area.
“That’s one of the first things they ask about is municipal water supply,” he said. “Not so much because they need it for the potable water, but because they need it for their fire suppression systems.”
Arauco will pay 95 percent on a special assessment for the USDA loan. Other users will be assessed for their planned water and sewer usage as they connect to the utilities.
“Everybody else in the special assessment district is paying five percent on the bonds,” Stephan said.
Infrastructure Alternatives, Inc. has been contracted to operate the water and waste water systems. The development has created one local job for an employee.
“He lives here and bought a house in the Bear Lake- area,” Stephan said.
Tandem Axle, a trucking company, is half way through a construction project near the Arauco mill.
Grand Traverse Diesel recently purchased industrial development park property for a facility. And D.H.T. Trucking, which has several locations in Michigan, is the process of buying industrial park property for a facility.
“Because Arauco is here is why they are here,” Stephan said. “That’s why Tandem Axle moved from Gaylord down to here.”
The utility authority is expected to field more inquiries about development in the area now that the water and waste water utilities are available.
“The days of Weyerhaeuser and Georgia-Pacific, without having that municipal water supply are over with,” Stephan said. “Mainly, it’s for their fire suppression systems. They require it in the modern codes. It’s a huge deal.”
Officials hope to have the grant and loan agreements wrapped up soon with federal inspectors.
“There will be that three months before they make final payments to the contractors,” Stephan said. “That’s just to hold that money back until they make sure there are no problems that they need to come back and correct.”
In related development, engineering and planning for the Iron Belle Trail will take place later this year. The trail will link the Four Mile Road area with the City of Grayling. Construction of the trail will be completed in 2020.
“That’s all grants, paying for that,” Stephan said.