West End Update – City of Negaunee

City of Negaunee has much to offer

Nate Heffron, city manager, city of Negaunee

NEGAUNEE — There’s been a major push to improve the infrastructure of Negaunee, from streets to waterlines, sewers and sidewalks, and of course, the approval of the most recent Downtown Enhancement Project.

Many of these improvements cannot be seen by the naked eye, but are still important. Every infrastructure improvement also benefits Negaunee’s economy in some way.

Homeowners and businesses are attracted to communities make maintaining and improving infrastructure a high priority. I know Negaunee has not always been that community. But in the past several years, city government has worked to change some of these past practices and is making great strides, placing our future on solid ground!

A city’s economy is much more than infrastructure alone. We must find new and emerging economic drivers, even beyond mining. We all know that natural resources are finite, and one day mining will no longer exist in this area. That’s why now is the time to figure out our path. Cities like Negaunee certainly don’t want to end like the long-forgotten communities in coal country, or western towns created by gold and silver booms.

Negaunee’s future successes, in my opinion, lie with outdoor recreation and tourism. When developed correctly, these economic drivers can be a great benefit to residents and businesses alike. Tourists can be a blessing without being a burden.

We also cannot live by the attitude of “if you don’t like how Negaunee is, then don’t come here.” That way of thinking is shortsighted and dangerous! Creating a closed, unwelcoming community that blocks change can be a recipe for failure.

This is why in the next few weeks you will see Negaunee continue to forge its future with initiatives centered around outdoor recreation and tourism. Starting with the submittal of our RV campground application for the DNRs SPARK grant. If the successful, Negaunee could be awarded a $1 million grant for the project.

Additionally, I will be creating a special committee that will review and make recommendations surrounding the economic impact that recreational trails have on our community. The creation of this committee will come mid-June and will involve many different types of people who use the trails. The goal is to discover and record the array of experiences that Negaunee has to offer. The committee will focus on:

Providing a full accounting of all trail assets, include locations (map), signage, parking lots, and other amenities along with their current condition; identifying the number of miles for each category of trail use; providing suggested locations for new trails to be established per category if applicable; suggesting amenity improvements for each trail category; and providing economic impact data for each trail category.

Applications to serve on as a member of this committee will be available on our website or for pick-up at city hall sometime in the next few weeks .

We will also finish up some of our long-awaited projects that have unfortunately taking much longer than we expected, such as the Jackson Mine Playground and the Joint Teal Lake Dock Project. Delays caused by COVID are still impacting our progress even now.

Negaunee is a place where you can forge your adventure. Whether that’s starting a business, creating your home, or seeking the great outdoors. We have what you’re looking for! Come check us out, you won’t regret it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nate Heffrom is city manager of the city of Negaunee.


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