Cheboygan town officials approve five-year capital improvement plan and draw up ‘wish list’ for future projects

CHEBOYGAN – Cheboygan town officials recently approved a five-year capital improvement plan to give them a “wish list” of projects to complete when funding becomes available.

Cheboygan City Manager Dan Sabolsky and City Council members will soon have a working session to further discuss the plans, which include equipment purchases for the city’s police and fire departments, as well as new equipment for street service. Improvements to the water system are also noted.

“We should have this document. It should be done every six years, and we haven’t had one for a few years,” Sabolsky said.

Sabolsky said the document needs to be passed by council and put in place so the city can seek grants to help turn the wish list into a reality. The working session would allow city officials to examine the projects in greater depth, then offer ideas for potential funding sources to move forward with upgrades and improvements.

The capital improvement plan was developed following meetings between Sabolsky and various department heads, including Cheboygan Fire Department Chief Don Dailey, Cheboygan Town Public Works Director Jason Karmol , and Parks and Recreation Department Director Scott Hancock.

Department heads brought priority lists and associated costs, which included new tasers, weapons, bulletproof vests and body cameras for the city’s police department, turnout gear, weapon packs, and more. air and a new van for the fire department, and new lawn mowers for the parks and recreation department. The resurfacing of city streets was also included.

“It was very difficult for the department heads, Jason in particular, all those big numbers in there,” Sabolsky said. “You could add up three of his numbers and it was $7 million, I think. So going through it, it was kind of depressing for us as a team, as we were going through that, to know how much there was really there and how are we going to get there.”

The water infrastructure improvements included in the document cost more than $30.3 million. Proposed upgrades to the city’s sewer plant cost more than $23 million. Equipment costs for the police department alone have been estimated at over $150,000, which also includes a new patrol vehicle. Fire department equipment and upgrades would cost more than $336,000.

The Cheboygan Department of Public Safety currently has several Dodge Ram pickup trucks in its fleet, which are used as patrol vehicles in the seven square miles that make up the town of Cheboygan.  The trucks are four-wheel drive, which helps during the winter, as well as on city gravel roads.  As these vehicles age, they need to be replaced, so this is one of the projects added to the city's capital improvement plan.

The document was an eye-opener for city officials, but helped highlight needs.

Sabolsky said that’s something he thinks will better explain the city’s priorities and strategies.

“If you look at this document, you’ll quickly realize, ‘Wow, there’s a lot to do,'” Sabolsky said.

For example, the equipment needed for police and fire departments is.

In the past, city officials have discussed the need to eventually levy a mileage to help fund public safety.

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Sabolsky said this document is something the city can use as a baseline, whenever they start talking about potentially having a little bit of extra funding, or if a new grant becomes available, they have a list of projects for see where this funding could benefit.

“It’s a living, breathing document that we must continually modify as we move forward,” he said.

When the projects in the document are complete, they can be removed from the plan and replaced with other to-do items.

Cheboygan Councilor Ken Kwiatkowski said it was something the town had always been doing for the more than 20 years he had worked for the municipality. This has always been called the “wish list”.

A copy of the city’s capital improvement plan for the next five years is available on the city’s website at

Contact feature writer Kortny Hahn at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @khahnCDT.