Fighting to keep Hickory Hills

When discussing the year's budget, Hickory Hills is often one of the areas where TC commissioners look to make cuts.

The future of Hickory Hills ski hill is just one of the issues Traverse City Commissioners discussed at Monday's meeting. When discussing the year's budget, Hickory Hills is often one of the areas where commissioners look to make cuts. But commissioners listened to folks from the Traverse City ski club and the group "Preserve Hickory" to come up with a long-term plan to keep the facility running.

Some of those possibilities are special assessments, millages, or sharing funding with the county, townships and the recreation authority. Right now it costs about $200,000 a year to operate the ski hill, with about half of that coming from the city's general fund. Many agreed that Hickory Hills is an important part of our community.

"Hickory Hills is such a wonderful asset to our community," said Lauren Vaughn, Traverse City Parks & Recreation Director. "It's a place for kids to be able to spend some quality recreation time during the winter months. And it's very important that it gets sustained into the future."

The TC ski club and Hickory Hills preservation group will meet with Garfield Township Tuesday night. Then, they will discuss future funding options with the county and parks and recreation.

Another important topic at Monday's meeting: a request from the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District to discuss how much it would cost to put a police liaison officer on its campuses.

Tonight commissioners agreed with TBAISD officials to support extra protection at its four school campuses in the area. Commissioners did not vote, but decided they will continue to pursue the request. One reason: a liaison officer would not only be beneficial to students with safety and prevention work, but would also benefit Downtown Traverse City during the busy Summer months.

"I think it's a good idea -- it's kind of a win-win all the way around, said Mike Warren, Traverse City Chief of Police. "They can get an officer for 10 months out of the year and the city of Traverse city can pick up that officer for July and August, which is always our busiest two months of the year when normally we're short-handed."

TBAISD would cover about 80% of the cost to hire a liaison officer and the city would provide the additional 20%. With the commissioners support, as of right now, it's the city attorney and TBAISD superintendent's decision whether or not to hire a new officer.