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Hello everyone and welcome to another normal Marquette summer. I say normal because you never know what it’s going to be like. Maybe warm or maybe not so warm. So far it looks like this one is on the not so warm path. Either way, it usually works for all of us that have been around for a long time. No matter what, we seem to be able to participate in the normal summer activities and make the best of what we have. I think we’ll all agree that Marquette always seems to produce the best.
For those of us that work for the City, probably our most prominent summer activity is road and other construction. Outside of our usual road maintenance projects, the most prominent is likely the new infrastructure at the Lighthouse Park. The City Commission has been working hard at establishing this park as something the City can be proud of and has spent the last 12 months deciding how to do it. This summer, you will see a new entrance to the park via East Arch Street off of Lakeshore Boulevard, as well as a new multi-use path and two new parking areas. One parking area will be in front of the lighthouse buildings and the other, which incorporates a small cul-de-sac, will be in front of the Maritime Museum. The old Coast Guard Road that leads to McCarty’s Cove will be abandoned, however the Multi-use path will remain along that route.
The City Commission has also made some other significant decisions in the area of construction that will, in my opinion, be significant assets to our community. The first is the reuse of the old dock pilings located in the lower harbor just off of Founders Landing. This is a project that has been in the works for about 20 years and is a requirement by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), formerly the Department of Environmental Quality, as part of the overall Founders Landing project. The public will be able to enjoy two new piers for recreation, including boating, kayaking and fishing.
The boating public will also see the beginning of our pier replacement project at Presque Isle Marina. This is also a project that has been in progress for the last several years and is a long time in coming. I am also happy to say that the Commission has established a stable funding and maintenance schedule to allow us to keep both marinas useful and functional into the future.
The last project that I’d like to mention is the recent City Commission decision to move forward with the relocation of Lakeshore Boulevard between Wright Street and Hawley Street. This is a highly traveled section of our shoreline road system that has been under constant attack from Lake Superior in the form of erosion caused by wind, waves and generally harsh weather. The Commission has committed, as part of the first phase of the project, to move the road inland and away from the effects of Lake Superior and has committed $3 million from the 2019-20 budget as part of a match to a recent $2.5 million grant awarded to the City.
Overall, the City of Marquette is moving forward in a very positive way and I hope and encourage all of you to enjoy the many good things that we are experiencing. Enjoy your summer, I know I will.
Well, it looks like we’ve moved beyond the exceptional winter that we had this year and are well on our way through spring and, hopefully, into summer. A sure sign of spring around here is the end of the NMU school year which is generally around the first week in May. By the time you are likely reading this, NMU will have completed their graduation process and the students will be on their way to enjoying the long-anticipated summer time fun.
Often that summer time fun is still in Marquette and is situated around our many public parks and related summer time activities. One of the more popular activities that is often considered a must see, or in this case a must do, is the jumping from Blackrocks at Presque Isle Park. Some even consider it a rite of passage and say you haven’t really experienced Marquette unless you’ve taken the leap.
The popularity of this area has created a few concerns for us that are urging attention sooner than later and have prompted changes to the area that will probably be in place by the time summer visitors start to venture to the park. The two main problems facing the park are parking and environmental impacts, mainly erosion; both which are caused by the high volume of visitors. Visitors should be aware that there will likely be new and more restrictive parking regulations in the park by the time the park opens for the season. Additionally, there will likely be new natural barriers in place to help control foot traffic and reduce the negative environmental impact.
The bottom line is, when visiting the park, pay attention to new signage and maybe even take the time to review new rules and/or ordinances prior to your venture. In any case, Presque Isle Park will still be a wonderful place to visit and enjoy. So, lets all do our part to keep the park enjoyable for all.
It seems that I always mention two things when I write this article, construction and the weather, and this time will be no different. I think that I can safely say in both cases that the news is positive. The good news regarding construction, other than we are pushing ahead with several of our planned projects, is that the City Commission recently made a significant decision about Lighthouse Park.
For those who are unfamiliar, Lighthouse Park is the old Coast Guard Station and Lighthouse that were traded to the City back in 2010 for the current location of the new Coast Guard Station. So this development has been a long time coming. The City Commission unanimously approved a plan to create a new entrance to the park from Arch Street, relocate the multi-use path, create new parking areas for visitors to the park and create additional parking for the Maritime Museum. This is a very significant first step in moving the long-awaited park towards more public access and use.
In regard to the weather, I’m hoping that, by the time you’re reading this, we’ve made the turn toward spring. We’ve had one of those winters that I remember from growing up in Marquette. To me, the 200 plus inches of snow that we have received so far is nothing new; however, it can still be a challenge and gets old really fast. The good news that I would like to mention here is the tremendous effort put forth by our City snow plowing crews. They have been working 12 hour shifts for several weeks now to, at the very least, keep pace with the snowfall. Granted, there are likely some citizens who are not happy with how we are handling it but, as the City Manager, I can’t think of a better method. So, if you see a snow plow driver thank them for their hard work, it will go a long way.
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is looking forward to another good and productive new year. It’s hard to believe that it’s 2019 already. It seems like only yesterday that we were anticipating the turn of the new century and the awaiting the resolution of the possible Y2K effect. Which, as you are all aware, didn’t happen. It’s also the time of year where much of Marquette and the U.P. hits its stride with winter activities. Although there is often great anticipation for the summer season (what we at the City refer to as construction season) for some, winter is also a high point. And from what I can tell so far, the snow is not going to let us down. There is a lot to look forward to including: dog sled, ski and winter bike races, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice fishing, as well as many more activities that residents and visitors hold dear.
It is also time for City staff to take a breather, but usually not for long. This is the time of year when we get to work on everything that needs to be done once the snow melts. One of the biggest items on the horizon is the move of the old hospital to its brand-new building adjacent to the US 41-M28 bypass. It’s been a work in progress for several years now with many moving parts and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Many good people, including City staff, have worked hard to make it all happen.
To go along with the new hospital, we learned some good news in December that the old hospital was purchased by a local development group with some very impressive plans for the re-use of the property. From what I know at the time of this writing, I firmly believe that this development will be very good for the residents of Marquette and certainly the U.P. in general. All of us here look forward to seeing it all happen.
Things continue to look positive for Marquette for 2019 and we hope the same applies to all of our residents and visitors alike. There is a lot to be happy about and proud of, so go out and enjoy.
I’m writing this with two days left in October and, by the time that you read this, October will be behind us. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the last two months (especially October) were good for us. I pay special attention to these two months for two reasons. First, everyone is back in school and, second, the weather (which relates back to the first).
The impact of roughly 3,000 public school and 10,000 NMU students is noticeable in several ways. Mostly good, but with the caveat that we really want everyone to be safe. Not only safe while traveling and learning, but also safe while recreating. Which brings me back to me second point, the weather.
Last years month of October brought a very violent storm to the area that hit around the third week. Not only did it cause extensive damage to several areas, including our shoreline, it also took two lives. Although not students, the two were visitors to the area who couldn’t resist the lure of watching the big waves on Lake Superior caused by that storm. There were also other “close calls” reported where people could have just as easily been injured or lost their own lives.
Marquette is a beautiful place to be in the fall. Even after the leaves have turned and fallen, there’s still the lake that can put on a pretty good show when the weather is right, and it’s not just limited to October. In 1975, November brought the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the rest of the winter can often bring strong winds and weather. My point is that I’d like everyone to enjoy our splendid beauty but do so with some caution (and common sense) especially when close to Lake Superior.
Welcome back students and especially those that are new to NMU. Marquette is a bustling place and, because the summer is not quite over, many areas of construction still exist. For example, there is still some significant road work on Presque Isle Avenue and in Presque Isle Park that I’m sure will affect your day.
Speaking of Presque Isle Park, this is a popular destination for old and newcomers alike. Especially Black Rocks, where jumping from the high rocks into Lake Superior has become somewhat of a rite of passage and leads me to mention the perils of Lake Superior. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the lake and its potential dangers. The locals are well aware, but sometimes the draw of its beauty underscores the lakes awesome power that is often not evident at first glance. So please take the time to learn before you leap. As a side note, you might want to pay attention to parking restrictions in that area as well.
Late summer and fall continue to be a busy time for us here at the City. Due to the short construction season, we are often hurrying to finish projects while planning ahead for the next season. I’m sure that the new construction at Founders Landing will catch your eye and, if all goes as planned, we hope to have one more project there next summer. Housing close to downtown seems to be the area of emphasis, but housing growth in general is something that you’re also likely to see.
The City is also working to develop some larger parcels of land in the Heartwood Forestland. This is an approximate 2400 acre tract near the south City limits and Marquette Mountain Ski Hill and is also the heart of the NTN trail biking network. We realize the tremendous popularity and value of the network to both locals and visitors alike and are working hand in hand with the Noquemanon Trail Network to ensure its continued appeal and success.
This area is likely to see light industrial use and some new housing as well. In any case, my thanks to all for living in or just visiting our fine City and
Summer has arrived, although it doesn’t seem to feel like it sometimes. But hey, if you lived here as long as I have, you know this is more like the norm. Warm or not, this time of year represents the construction season for us and we’re back at it, although not quite as aggressively as we were last summer.
Two significant street projects are underway and motorists are urged to seek alternative routes to avoid potential delays. Presque Isle Avenue between Fair Avenue and Wright Street is being completely redone including City infrastructure. Water, sewer and storm water infrastructure is, in many parts of the City, several decades old with some as much as a
century old. Presque Isle Avenue has needed work for over a quarter of a century and I’m happy that we are finally getting to it. The other road project is South Fifth Street near City Hall which is also an older part of the City.
While traveling, you might also take note that we are replacing all of our traffic signals and street lights. This is all part of an energy saving upgrade that has been long overdue. Not only will the energy savings pay for the improvements, but by putting in new smarter traffic signals, your ability to navigate through town will be greatly improved. If all goes according to plan, we should have this work complete about mid-summer and in time for all of the visitors that usually arrive about then.
All in all, it should be another fine summer for City residents and visitors alike. We continue to move forward with many positives things in Marquette that I feel will only contribute to a better living and visiting experience.
Finally, we are on our way to a real spring and summer. It’s late April as I write this and, as recently as the significant snow storm two weeks ago, I had my doubts spring would come. Reports indicated we received anywhere from 20 to 30 inches of the white stuff over a three-day period.
Normally when I write this article I try to cover a few different topics that I think might be of interest. This time, however, I’d only like to touch on one. That being the U.P. Health Systems new $300M plus hospital. You see, we just finished a tour of the new facility with members of the City Commission, the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and City staff and it was nothing but impressive.
It’s impressive in size, technology, logistics and efficiency, but what really struck me were the services. We have all become very comfortable with a hospital in our community as we’ve had at least one for decades. Maybe, in some ways, too comfortable because the truth is, under the current healthcare model, this kind of hospital with these kinds of services in a city like Marquette are not the norm. In other words, we are fortunate.
You are more likely to see this type of facility and services in a less remote, more metropolitan area. Although we do have most, if not all, of these services now, we are going to have the most advanced technology available, attached to a more efficient process, all wrapped up in a state of the art building. From my information, which I consider the reliable kind, this will all be supported by a high-quality staff. I can personally vouch for the staff because of recent experiences that support the fact that they are nothing but the best.
In other words, as a community we are very fortunate to live in an area where an entity like U.P. Health Systems is willing to provide a service that is not available to many other areas in this country. I, for one, am thankful that they are here and I hope you will join me in giving them the support that they need. If not, I’m quite sure they will earn it.
Well, it’s midwinter and we have successfully completed all of the annual outdoor events that I talked about in the last newsletter. I need to go light on the “we” because I have had very little to do with that success, but in a small way we’re all involved somehow. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank all of those who ARE in the thick of it and have worked very hard over the years to make our community a positive place to be. Especially in the winter.
This time of year for the City is filled with planning and preparing for the summer. Which to us is also best described as “the short construction season”. We try to schedule these projects through a five-year plan, but on occasion things happen to either change or add to that plan. Two such changes happened last year. The first was the result of a serious storm last October that caused considerable shoreline damage and the second was the long-awaited acquisition of the old Lighthouse property from the U.S. Coast Guard.
A large portion of the shoreline that was damaged during the storm occurred at Shiras Park (Picnic Rocks) where much of the shoreline and a large part of the parking area were impacted. As a result, the park was closed to the public. By shifting some of our financial resources around we hope to have a short-term fix in place so that the park can be re-opened for this summer. Because some of the fixes that we have in mind (both long and short-term) will reconfigure the parking area and entrance, the park will look somewhat different when re-opened. We will also begin the planning for a permanent, long-term fix.
You can also look forward to some improvements at the new Lighthouse Park. The City Commission recently accepted a long-term development plan for the park that outlines the proposed improvements. Also by shifting some of our financial resources we are happy to say that we will begin some of those improvements this summer as well. At the very least we hope to relocate the multiuse path, refurbish the Captain’s house for use as a short-term rental, possibly refurbish the old station house and generally clean-up the property. If time and money allows we will also look at improving the entrance to the park via East Arch Street.
Overall, we’re looking forward to another busy “short construction season” and we hope that you are here with us.
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