GRAYLING – Is there a duck pond in Grayling’ future? Driving by the corner of Peninsular and Ingham one might begin to think so. The past several months have seen the accumulation of numerous duck decoys and some giant duck paintings on the vacant lot, one Bufflehead and a Wood Duck to be specific. With no official explanations offered, lots possibilities have been floating around town including the possibility that an actual duck pond with waterfall and hanging gardens is in the plan.
Conjecture has been put aside by reality through a conversation with Tom and Judy Steffen, owners of the property and the folks responsible for the duck art.
Years ago Tom was a college professor teaching engineering who became a builder and moved his family to Traverse City. Their new location offered Tom, who has had a life-long love affair with ducks, a small pond which quickly became his own personal duck pond. The family purchased Tom his first flock of four Mallards affectionately named Huey, Dewey, Louie and ‘The Spare’ who became the first official inhabitants of Tom’ ‘Duck Pond’. Jumping forward to the present, Tom and Judy moved to Grayling. Tom is ‘somewhat retired’ but still dabbles, along with wife and business partner Judy, in some land development.
The decoys and the paintings are Tom’. Tom and Judy frequent garage and yard sales where Tom scoops up every duck decoy he can find and what better place to display them but in the middle of town nailed to a tree stump? The paintings are original work by Tom. Any duck hunter or bird watcher will quickly recognize a Bufflehead and a Wood Duck.
All of this back ground information still doesn’t answer the big question, WHY?
Tom and Judy are pleased to announce that they are erecting a condominium complex on that corner. The planning stages are about completed. Local financing is in the final stages of review and approval. Their hope is to be able to commence construction this summer. Not wanting to select a project name that was without real appeal, they have pretty much decided to call the complex ‘The Duck Pond’.
The Duck Pond will consist of four condominium units. Each will be two-story with two and one half baths and a full basement and will offer upscale living within easy walking of Graylings finest offerings. With the evolution of Grayling downtown’ fine dining, craft breweries and year round entertainment opportunities, this corner becomes the perfect location for year-round living. On top of all its other attributes, this site offers the absolute finest view for the start of the Annual AuSable River Canoe Marathon held each year at the end of July.
Tom and Judy also purchased the old ‘Sawmill Bar’ and the adjoining structure. Their plan for this site is not as completely developed but is focused on a new building with retail space on the first level and additional upscale living quarters on the second floor. Talk about being able to live in the center of the best that a growing community has to offer, this is it.
Tom and Judy have applied for and received a $400,000.00 ‘Abatement Grant’ from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, (MDEQ), to take care of the removal of hazardous material, (lead and asbestos), from the site. They are also pleased to share that all financing is through local banking institutions and that all labor and materials will be acquired from local sources.
Sometimes, folks that have been around a while have to do a ‘double-take’ and wonder where all these changes have come from. When we take another look we suddenly see the growth that has been going on the last few years through the hard work of many groups, both private and governmental, and the belief of a few people that open new businesses an area others have lost faith in.
It’ going to be fun to watch the ‘Duck Pond’ grow. Will there be a real duck pond? According to Judy, the plans call for a retention basin behind the condos that just might become attractive to some Mallards.
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