MARQUETTE - The Heartwood Forestland Ad Hoc Committee reviewed a second draft of its final report to the Marquette City Commission regarding the future of the 2,373 acre Heartwood Forestland.
The committee has identified about half the property - 1,040 acres - for potential development and 1,040 acres for conservation and public recreation.
There is an additional 280 acres of the property near Marquette Mountain ski hill, which - because of its proximity to M-553 - could be developed. However the area also contains an extensive and highly-used trail network.
Robert Brugman, front, and his brother Scott Brugman, snowshoe
on a trail through the Heartwood Forestland Thursday
afternoon. (Journal photo by Julia Woehrer)
The committee has suggested the city take no immediate action on that area and study it further through a community-wide planning process.
Due to the many trails on the property, the committee suggested the city partner with the Noquemanon Trail Network on trail management and development and take charge of developing primary trail heads. Trail heads may include things like parking, tables, restrooms and map kiosks and funding could be pursued through the state grants.
Bob Cambensy, chairman of the committee, said it was important the city maintain relationships with Marquette and Sands townships when considering the future of the property.
"A lot of the land is in their townships and subject to their zoning. I mean, they do have some control over it even though the city owns it," he said.
The committee will meet again at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday in room 231 of city hall to put the finishing touches on the report before presenting it to the commission in mid-February.
Marquette resident Don Potvin criticized the city commission and city manager for taking so long between the purchase of the site in 2005 and the formation of the ad hoc committee in January of 2009.
"The problem was the period of time just lapsed and lapsed and lapsed and nothing was done and for a long period of time, including now, the city is still paying out of their operating budget the interest and other costs of that property with nothing to recoup anything at this time," he said.
Potvin thanked the group for doing "a very good job with a difficult and multi-dimensional situation." He also suggested the city sell the Heartwood Forestland property within Marquette Township to the township.
The city bought the property in 2005 for $5 million from the Forestland Group of Chapel Hill, N.C. To finance the purchase, the city issued a general obligation limited tax bond and levied 1 mill on city property. It is located within the city of Marquette and Marquette and Sands townships.