ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.
The news last week of the Gun Lake Tribe winning a $56 million loan from the Environmental Agency will have a massive impact on Wayland Township, Hopkins Township, Wayland Union Schools, the City of Wayland and many of their neighbors.
The Tribe has acquired the ability to build modern water and sewer systems to serve not only customers, but also nearly residents and municipalities.
To be sure, the City of Wayland already has a water system and sewer treatment plant, but Hopkins Township in the last several years has gone to great lengths to attempt to hook up via a downtown development district just to the west of the U.S.-131 expressway.
The Tribe’s press release last week stated, “With EPA’s WIFIA financing, the Gun Lake Tribal Utility Authority will improve and expand the drinking water and wastewater systems to meet the needs of its customers now and in the future. The project includes design and construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, new drinking water treatment plant, groundwater wells and an elevated water storage tank.
”Water meters will be installed to improve water loss monitoring. This updated infrastructure will provide a reliable and safe drinking water supply, protect nearby waterways, and support community economic development.”
The biggest reason why Hopkins Township created that downtown development district was to provide businesses and industries water and sewer services along that corridor west of the freeway. And there were some in the City of Wayland, such as K & M Chrysler, that were very interested in relocating to that district.
Hopkins Township wanted to oversee development in this corridor badly enough to try to forge a deal with Hopkins Village when negotiations for the extension with the City of Wayland did not bear fruit.
I am told city officials weren’t particularly interested anyway because extension of city water and sewer likely would be very expensive.
But the Michigan State Boundary Commission did not provide its blessing for the Hopkins Township plan to have the properties annexed by the city. The same fate fell on Realtor Brian Silvernail, who also pitched his plans on behalf of a dozen property owners who live in the proposed district.
So now Hopkins Township officials and Silvernail now could negotiate water and sewer services from the Tribe. It’s a very different outcome than what they proposed.
The Tribe acknowledged it will use the money to help fund infrastructure needs for the building a new hotel facility on its property Tribal officials also have not ruled out more expansion of the Gun Lake Casino and tribal lands north through Wayland Township, to as far as the city limits at 133rd Avenue.
Some observers may argue that an economic monster was created by the tribe taking into trust the land for the casino property a dozen years ago, but their objections now are moot.
“For the times, they are a-changing,” sang Bob Dylan 60 years ago, and those unable to adapt may be left in the dust.