Repairs continue to be made at Shiras Park
Although it was nowhere near as damaging as the heavy floods that devastated the Houghton-Hancock area June 16-17, the storm that hit the Marquette area in October left its mark as well.
Winds as high as 77 mph along Lake Superior and 49 mph at the National Weather Service office in Negaunee Township, plus a record rainfall of 2.27 inches, struck the region.
Of particular notice — and concern to many — was the wrecked parking lot at Shiras Park at Picnic Rocks, a popular spot in the community.
Big waves that hit the park left it looking like an earthquake hit, with chunks of the lot scattered about the site.
And it stayed that way for a while.
That’s not the case anymore. The rubble is gone, and the part of the lot that has been sectioned off contains picnic tables for people to enjoy a view of Lake Superior and the iconic Picnic Rocks, an island just offshore from the park.
So what happens when — and not necessarily if — a big storm hits the park again? October wasn’t the first time inclement weather affected Shiras Park.
Officials with the city of Marquette recently met with an engineer, whose idea is to seek grants for work that actually changes the water flow around the island.
By altering the way waves hit the shoreline, erosion would be staved off since the shoreline wouldn’t be washed away.
The city’s short-term goal is to configure the parking lot. The long-term goal is to return the parking lot to its original size or leave it in its current condition. In either case, though, the shoreline would be stabilized.
However, that won’t come cheap, with the stabilization cost estimated at over $1 million to as much as $3 million.
This is where grants would be essential to get such a project off the ground.
The easy thing to do, if you could call it easy, is to just make the repairs and hope another big storm doesn’t strike the park.
Mother Nature, of course, has plans of her own, and that doesn’t involve waiting until money is in place. If winds as high as 77 mph hit Shiras Park at Picnic Rocks again, and the park’s shoreline isn’t stabilized, it’s a good bet that rubble will fill the parking lot, leaving that area of the community basically inaccessible for a long time.
This is a classic case where it pays to be proactive and innovative. We hope the city continues on the course of looking for ways to fund a project that keeps erosion from happening near Shiras Park.
It’s the environmentally and recreationally best thing to do.