Tract bought from county on split vote

Purchased after property tax foreclosure

The Ishpeming City Council approved the purchase of a 35-acre parcel near Lake Angeline in the Salisbury Location during a special meeting Wednesday. The property consists of paving grounds surrounding an old mine pit as well as swampland, and is surrounded on three sides by parcels already owned by the city. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council approved the purchase of a 32-acre parcel of land for $1,098 during a special meeting Wednesday.

Two of the five councilmen voted against acquiring the land, which was one of seven parcels listed for sale by the Marquette County Treasurer’s Office as the result of property tax foreclosure.

The parcel, located in Salisbury Location on South Pine Street, is largely comprised of caving grounds surrounding a large water-filled mine pit and swampland.

It is surrounded on three sides by property that the city already owns, one of which contains a small playground, according to an agenda supplement.

Councilman Stuart Skauge, who has some familiarity with the parcel, voted against making the purchase.

“I don’t think the city should buy it. I don’t care if it was $1,” Skauge said. “The section 16 mine is a mine pit and it’s fenced and it’s considered caving ground. You’ve got a huge portion of that that you can never touch, and then the other part, Salisbury, is like a swamp.”

He also cited financial concerns despite the low cost to purchase the property.

“We are hurting for money and $1,100 is still money that we can use for a lot of different things,” Skauge said. “Maybe you could get one more radio for the police department or something.”

Ishpeming City Manager Mark Slown said he was attempting to anticipate future city needs by recommending the purchase.

“If someone else gets it and we need an easement for water sewer or storm water control or some other public purpose, then now we have to acquire an easement and negotiate with a person. They might not have any incentive to give us an easement,” Slown said. “So we might end up paying more, and all the legal work that is associated with that, it might just be a great savings for the city so that we can hold it for those purposes as it does connect up with so many other things.”

Councilman Karl Lehmann, the second nay vote, said he visited the property and was concerned that there was little possibility of developing the parcel.

“The price is pretty ridiculously low, but a lot of it is swampland, and nothing we could use without mitigating something,” Lehmann said.

At least one council member thought the property might be worth purchasing for future development as well as potential trail access.

“I don’t agree that this isn’t developable, just for what it’s worth,” Mayor Pro Tem Justin Koski said. “The whole strip with the little access road north of the playground is more than developable, and I am not saying it’s going to happen this year, in this decade or even in 25 years.”