City commission supports taking in and treating Beal City sewer waste, protecting Chippewa River

Mount Pleasant City Commission members discuss a proposal at the meeting on Nov. 12 in Mount Pleasant City Hall.

Beal City -- an area of Isabella Township not governed by the local municipal corporation -- wants to utilize extra capacity within the Mount Pleasant Wastewater Treatment Plant by sending their residential strength waste to the plant to be treated. 

At a Nov. 12 Mount Pleasant City Commission meeting, commissioners showed support for the project that would result in less waste being discharged into the Chippewa River. 

The Chippewa River is a 91.8-mile stream that runs through central Michigan, flowing directly through the city of Mount Pleasant.

The first part of a preliminary engineering report for the project has been completed, which is required by the Michigan Department of Environmental Equality (DEQ), said Pete Lorenz of Lorenz Surveying and Engineering.

Based on meetings with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Beal City is pursuing a long-term, low-interest loan -- preferably a minimum of 40 years. Lorenz said $3 million has already been secured through the state of Michigan. 

Lorenz said different options for collection and treatment of sewage were originally sought after.  

The township thought it would be best to treat the sewage at a neighboring municipal facility already in operation and was put first in contact with Mount Pleasant, which they later found out had extra capacity in its wastewater treatment plant, Lorenz said.

Commissioner Tony Kulick said there are two reasons for the extra capacity: Union Township recently built their own plant and Central Michigan University has been more sustainable the last decade, reducing their waste with low-flow toilets and water. 

“Even if we took on this capacity, we would be able to take on more waste if we were to further develop,” Kulick said. 

Lorenz said the preferred option would include constructing a sewer force main— a pressurized sewer pipe that would run from Beal City to the Mount Pleasant treatment plant. 

“There is great benefit for (Mount Pleasant) in doing this,” Lorenz said. “It would save Isabella Township duplicating a service that already is offered by Mount Pleasant, and it eliminates the need for the township to hire additional personnel and eliminates an additional discharge into (the Chippewa River).” 

Lorenz added it would also generate revenue from existing infrastructure.  

The commission was in support of the project. 

“I think it is within our obligation to protect the Chippewa River and be good neighbors with Nottawa Township,” said City Commissioner Kristin LaLonde. 

When asked if there are any negative effects of the project, City Manager Nancy Ridley said there are no foreseen downsides or costs. 

“We have not been able to find any downsides,” Ridley said. “What we would charge for the waste that comes in would cover the cost of the treatment.” 

Going forward, Lorenz said USDA and DEQ are expanding upon the original preliminary report. 

Commission votes to sell GumBuster machine 

The city-owned GumBuster machine, used to remove gum and graffiti from sidewalks and buildings, will no longer be available to rent because the commission decided to sell it.

Kulick was the only commissioner opposed to selling the city’s GumBuster machine, which was bought for around $7,000 and has gotten little use since its purchase.

The machine has been used only a couple times, Ridley said. 

Commissioner Lori Gillis said the purchase of the machine was a “mistake in the first place.” 

Funding allocated to passenger train study 

A study will be conducted to decide whether or not Mount Pleasant is suited for a passenger train. 

The train would run from Ann Arbor to Traverse City, making a stop somewhere within Mount Pleasant. 

Gillis said she envisions Parcel B -- a plot of land adjacent to, and west of, Mount Pleasant City Hall -- used to build a hotel near the train station. From there, a shuttle would take visitors to places of entertainment within the city. 

“Part of Mount Pleasant’s lack of diversity stems from its inaccessibility,” said Commisioner William Joseph. “I think a rail line that comes through Mount Pleasant gives (the city) a way for people to go to school, work or shop in Mount Pleasant.”