2018-03-08 / Local News

Sewer needed for a vibrant Empire

By Mary Sharry

Recently, a group of diligent village residents completed a year-long study conducted by Gosling Czubak Engineers on the feasibility of a wastewater treatment system for the village of Empire. The findings are well done, and even just the first part gives an excellent overview of the entire study which is available at the Glen Lake Community Library or at the village office.

I’ve long felt there is a need for a sewer system in Empire, given the age of many structures and the need to attract new business, the lifeblood to this community. Years ago my mother and a group of citizens, now long passed on, had expressed a strong need for such a system. This is not a new concept.

After reading through the feasibility study, I’m convinced of the need for a wastewater/sewer system. I support this opportunity for Empire to maintain its viability. As of now there are vacant structures within the commercial district of the village. It seems our only grocery store is about to close down. To support the growing influx of tourists a new motel will be going up, but I feel that if Empire does nothing regarding wastewater/ sewer issues, the commercial district will die and the village will become nothing more than an extension of M-72 leading to a parking lot at the Lake Michigan beach. The houses on the village streets will become mostly weekly summer rentals. Such a scene does not present viability, something to attract young people to this village to live here and raise their families. A village with families was once an aspect that made Empire appealing – a safe place to live and raise children.

A wastewater system would attract new businesses which would certainly increase the tax base for the village, and would allow existing businesses to expand or make changes to their operations. Some folks say there are plenty of businesses in the village, but to me an enterprise run by one person, not hiring workers, not offering jobs, seems an empty prospect as far as growth is concerned.

I’ve heard folks say they don’t want growth; they don’t want change in the village. They want the village to remain as is. They like the quaint, small town atmosphere. A village council member was recently quoted in this paper stating that a sewer could turn the village into something people may not want and that it could change the “vibe” of Empire. I’m not sure what that “vibe” is, but to me, the tone of this village seems more like a death rattle.

I hope the old folks in this village, I’m one of them, whether they are year-round or part-time residents, will take an interest in the need for a wastewater/sewer system, read the feasibility study, and start an openminded dialogue about this vital matter. Smaller communities, Honor for instance, have a sewer system, which came about through federal funding. There are ways and means to accomplish this vital need.

About the author:

Ms. Sharry has been involved in many Empire community projects, and is a frequent attendee of Village Council meetings. She resides on Michigan Street.

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