Au Gres City Council approves sale of Funland property
Au GRES — A proposal to purchase the former Au Gres Funland property for $10,000 was unanimously accepted by Au Gres City Council during a special meeting Dec. 17.
City council members voted to sell the property to the Kampber Management Group, of Bay City, which will develop the property for a facility that will be compatible with a future McLaren Health Care facility that is also being developed in Au Gres.
Prior to the sale being approved, a public hearing was held, during which City Manager Pat Killingbeck said the project would create 15 to 20 full-time jobs and help the city achieve its goal of cleaning up the property.
“The investment is expected to be approximately $2 million,” she said. “It will eliminate another blighted property in our downtown. It’s been vacant for about eight years, and we’ve been fighting the blight — the tall grass — and we’ve had problems with vandalism.”
Killingbeck said many people in Au Gres have wanted a closer option for health care needs.
“In our community, we’ve been waiting a long time for our area to be recognized, knowing that we need additional health care facilities,” she said. “Currently, our citizens have to drive 50 miles, more or less, for very, very basic services. It’s very difficult for our seniors to do that.”
The hearing was opened up for public comment, and resident Dave Pockrandt asked about a timeline for when the project would begin.
“I just wondered how long about before they might be open or when the cleaning project might occur,” he said.
Dave Dittenber, of Kampber Management, said removal of the Funland equipment is expected to begin in mid-2014.
Dittenber said he has many relatives who live in the Au Gres area, and over the years he has saw much of the city’s businesses close up shop. He said the project was personal for him.
“I’ve seen the area over the last 10-15 years and some of those blighted pieces,” he said. “The town has a lot more to offer than blighted properties that aren’t maintained.”
Chris Shannon, Director of the Arenac County Economic Development Corporation, said he has been working with Kampber for several months, helping to move along the sale of the American Pie property in the city, which will also be developed as a McLaren facility. He said the Kampber group was interested in Au Gres when other possible developers were not.
“The groups that they’re working with wouldn’t necessarily choose to do this in Au Gres,” he said. “Au Gres is being chosen because of Kampber development. I can tell you that the groups they’re working with would much rather see this go in Tawas, or West Branch, or some of the areas that have more population density.”
Dittenber said due to a confidentiality agreement, he could not give in depth details about the type of facility that would be built on the Funland property. He did say, though, that it would operate independently of the McLaren facility.