City Commission expands social district, applies for water loan

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published May 19, 2023

 This map shows the expanded Oasis social district in Mount Clemens. The expanded district will include three parking lots and cover more of the downtown north of Cass Avenue.

This map shows the expanded Oasis social district in Mount Clemens. The expanded district will include three parking lots and cover more of the downtown north of Cass Avenue.

Image provided by the city of Mount Clemens


MOUNT CLEMENS — Thirsty Mount Clemens residents can walk around with their drinks that much farther now, as the Mount Clemens City Commission approved expanding the footprint and operating hours of the Oasis social district at its May 15 meeting.

Pending approval by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, the social district will expand to include the Roskopp north and south parking lots and Market Street parking lot and will encompass the whole of Pine Street and the east side of North Main Street.

The inclusion of parking lots allows social district rules to cover outdoor events taking place in the lots. While some hesitance to include lots was expressed by City Commissioner Erik Rick, the lack of any other communities with fluctuating boundaries and the lack of significant incidents tied to the district gave the commission confidence to expand.

“We were very hesitant about parking lots from the beginning as well,” Mayor Laura Kropp said. “That’s why they weren’t in the first round, because that was our hesitation as well. But because we didn’t see (issues) and don’t anticipate that, we would like to have that opportunity to offer that when we do have events.”

The Oasis’ operating hours were also approved to change, allowing social district rules to go into effect every day from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., instead of its current schedule of noon to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Oasis was originally made in April 2021 in accordance with state rules allowing municipalities to designate select areas for permissible open drinking outdoors, giving bars and bar patrons a chance to operate and go out without posing a significant infection risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Establishments eligible to participate include Bath City Bistro, Little Loraines, Madison’s Pub, New Age Noodles, O’Halloran’s Public House, Orleans Sports Cafe, Three Blind Mice Irish Pub and Your Mother’s. Changes to social districts are presented to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for approval.


Water loan application
Commissioners also approved applying for a $42,052,000 Michigan Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan to help connect the city’s water system to the Great Lakes Water Authority system.

Engineering firm Fishbeck will draft the loan application and design the connection to the GLWA system.

The commission’s approval is a formal step in the application process. City commissioners originally voted in December 2022 to pursue a loan to help build a new municipal water plant, but Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy told the city it would not award a loan for that use. The city also lacked sufficient bonding capacity to take on the project.


Artspace agreement
On May 15, commissioners approved a plan with nonprofit developer Artspace to continue negotiations on the creation of a live-work facility for artists in the city, tentatively located at the Roskopp parking lot.

The exclusive negotiating rights agreement allows the city and Artspace to sort out the project’s final details and establish a site control agreement that will satisfy requirements for federal low-income housing tax credits development authority loan.

“(The agreement) doesn’t bind us to any transaction,” said Michael Murray, attorney for the city of Mount Clemens. “We made revisions to their standard agreement, and the most significant one is … limitations on the effect of the agreement.”

The plan for an artist live-work space in Mount Clemens originated with the Downtown Development Authority, which brought the idea to the Anton Art Center in 2019. Artspace was contacted later that year, and several studies performed in 2019 and 2020 were promising enough to continue the project. Artspace presented project concepts to the commission at an April 17, 2023, work session.