MESICK — There’s an $800,000 renovation project underway in downtown Mesick and with it, the noise and dust of construction.
Work trucks parked near the old Mesick Hardware are a welcome sight.
Mesick, a town whose population dropped almost 12 percent between 2000 and 2010, is not used to construction dust drifting out onto Mesick Avenue, their Main Street. They are more familiar with the silence of “closed‘ signs.
“Things were going pretty good here until the housing crash maybe 20 years ago,‘ said Craig Gabier, former owner of the Gabier-Gaylord Insurance Agency who worked from his Main Street office for 42 years. “When the job market got poor we lost many of our working families. They just moved away. School enrollment went from the low 900s to the low 600s. You lose 300 kids from the school system and it affects you socially and economically.‘
Gabier grew up in Mesick in the ‘60s when there were two hardware stores, at least four gas stations, multiple retail stores and even a car dealership — all on the main drag.
Greg Bailey also grew up in Mesick with family roots dating back to 1891. The owner of GE Bailey Agency Inc., an independent insurance agency, loves living in Mesick.
“I think this is a great spot to be,‘ he said. “And I think many positive things are happening here.‘
An air of optimism has been stirred by the sight of new construction as the old hardware store transforms into a modern business complex. The activity across the street from the job site at 105 E. Mesick Ave., is also a hopeful sign.
Greg Gurka, CEO of the Forest Area Federal Credit Union, considered expanding into Mesick last year after hearing that the village had lost its only financial institution — again.
“When we looked at the building, we noticed they were putting in storm sewers,‘ Gurka said. “And then we saw the new building going in across the street that we learned will be the community center and the library, it was exciting. It helped us make that decision ... we saw life in Mesick.‘
This fall, the new branch of the Forest Area Federal Credit Union will open at about the same time as the new Springville Township Community Center and Library. They may even plan their grand opening celebrations to coincide.
The Springville Township officials responsible for the 6,000-square-foot community center and library have been dreaming about this project for almost 30 years. But they didn’t just dream ... they diligently saved about $600,000. These funds are not from a milage project. It’s the result of saving for a project to benefit area residents. And now they are in the final push to raise the remaining funds.
To donate, mail a check to PO Box 323, Mesick MI 49668. Those who donate $100 or more will be recognized with a memorial wall plaque. Or call Sharon Ream at (231) 468-8479.
On Monday, the Cadillac News will report on how the Springville Township Community Center and Library dream became a reality.