Future of Founders Landing pier to be discussed

MARQUETTE — Marquette city officials will consider the future of the Founders Landing pier near the ore dock adjacent to Ellwood A. Mattson Lower Harbor Park Monday night at a city commission meeting.

In June, community services staff issued a request for qualifications for the Founders Landing pier redevelopment project, which includes a feasibility study and conceptual design services. Qualification statements were due by July 26.

Four firms responded to the RFQ, including GEI Consultants, which bid $83,500; Smith Group JJR, which bid $179,900; AMI Consulting Engineers P.A., which bid $129,950; and AECOM, which bid $67,000.

Each firm’s proposal was evaluated and scored by a team made up of city staff, consisting of the community services director, community development director, community services assistant director and the city hydrology engineer.

The team scored the proposals based on the firm’s previous experience, proven ability, proposed cost and quality of response.

Scores were calculated as follows: GEI Consultants received 88 points; Smith Group JJR received 82.5 points; AECOM received 73.5 points; and AMI Consulting Engineers P.A. received 47.75 points.

Chief Financial Officer Gary Simpson also reviewed the financial statements provided by each firm and supports awarding the contract to GEI Consultants, city documents state.

The Founders Landing pier consists of two piling structures on Lake Superior, south of the Lower Harbor ore dock. The structures are remains of the Spear Merchant Dock complex that was constructed in the late 1800s.

The northern pier structure is directly east of Baraga Avenue and is around 600 feet long and 80 feet wide, containing about 1,800 wooden piles.

The southern structure is about 500 feet long and 40 feet wide with roughly 1,400 wooden piles. The piles are approximately 10 to 12 inches in diameter and are arranged in rows of 20 to 30. Each of the rows are spaced about 10 feet apart.

The general condition of the pilings below the water level is OK, city documents state. A survey indicated a stable lake bottom with areas of debris closer to shore. Water depth around the piers was generally from 10 to 20 feet deep and had some rock outcroppings and underwater hazards.

These structures are located on state property covered by a bottomlands lease and use agreement with the city. The agreement requires the city to either reuse the piling structures or remove and cap them.

Funding for the Founders Landing pier redevelopment project has been secured through a brownfield plan and the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Authority.

The land adjacent to the piers was once called the North Tank Farm, which was constructed on approximately two acres in 1950 by the International Oil Company and consisted of four above-ground storage tanks. Petroleum products stored consisted of various grades of oil, industrials fuels and gasoline, city documents state.

According to the documents, the lease was amended in 1978 to include the storage of caustic soda that originated from the Dow Chemical Company. A spill of caustic soda occurred in 1986 and operations were discontinued later that year. The decommissioning of the storage tanks, demolition of the remaining onsite buildings and site remediation was completed in the fall of 1997.

Since 2002, nearby land as well as the former railroad site has been developed by the city of Marquette and private partnerships.

“Development has included site cleanup and remediation, a road and public utility system, steel sheet pile retaining wall reconstruction with boat mooring, a public boardwalk and bike path, condominiums and a hotel,” city notes state.

One Marquette Place, which is part of the development site, will include office, commercial, residential and underground parking areas, is reaching the final phases of completion. The first residents are expected to move in by October, officials say.

The Marquette City Commission will discuss this matter along with the rest of its agenda at a Monday meeting that starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at the City Hall commission chambers, located at 300 W. Baraga Ave.

For more information, visit www.marquettemi.gov.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.