Since the devastating Dead River flood of May 2003, the city of Marquette has been gradually reclaiming its Tourist Park along the river's shores.
With the washing out of the dam at the Tourist Park, the swimming area was gone as was the north entrance/exit road to the park and a good chunk of shoreline.
Since then, the Marquette Board of Light and Power has rebuilt the dam, thus refilling the park's basin that provides a swimming area. In addition, the basin offers a prime location for kayakers, canoeists and small boat operators to enjoy their sports, as well as some fishing action for anglers.
Now the city is moving forward on another aspect of improving the park's campground and picnicking opportunities - expanded and improved shower buildings.
The Marquette City Commission recently authorized a grant application to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to help pay for the roughly $60,000 project. The grant is being sought through the Recreation Passport Program.
This program receives its funds from Michigan residents purchasing the "passport" for their motor vehicles. The passport costs an extra $11, or $5 for motorcycles, and is purchased when renewing vehicle registration at the Secretary of State office.
Revenues generated from the program fund a variety of DNR initiatives, including improvements at state parks and other recreation-related facilities and providing grants for local community parks.
The local parks grant initiative is what the city of Marquette is hoping to tap in to for 75 percent of the Tourist Park project, which amounts to about $45,000. The city would be required to provide the 25 percent match, or about $15,000, through labor and/or money.
The expansion of the shower houses would result in them being in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The upgrade would also move the park closer to creating "family pods" as outlined in the city's Five-Year Recreation Master Plan.
We see the project as a continuing effort to enhance the Tourist Park and make it a more desirable destination for visitors to the city as well as for residents.
The grant would also be a good example of how the DNR is returning a portion of the Recreation Passport revenues back to local communities.