Extended walking hours mulled

The Presque Isle Park sign is pictured near the entrance of park in Marquette. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

MARQUETTE — Marquette’s Presque Isle Park Advisory Committee is considering a proposal that walking hours at the park be extended from 22 to 31 hours per week.

Traffic and safety concerns are the main impetus for the proposed change, which PIPAC discussed Wednesday at the Presque Isle Pavilion.

“Why we’re looking at this is because of concern around the historic high use of the park,” PIPAC Chairman Sam Crowley said. “At Black Rocks, we’re seeing cars parked there out onto the road, blocking at times the road, causing problems as far as traffic being able to move.”

He said safety concerns revolve around the fire and police departments as well as ambulance personnel being able to get to the area.

“We want to make sure that emergency vehicle access can be there,” Crowley said.

He acknowledged people jumping off the cliffs at Black Rocks is a popular activity, but it causes traffic congestion, particularly on warm days between 1 and 4 p.m. when people take part in that activity as well as swim.

PIPAC’s goals for Presque Isle Park, he said, are to provide access to everyone.

“We’re looking to maintain it so people with disabilities, people who are walking, people who are biking, people who are driving — all forms that are being used in the park right now — are able to use it and continue to use that,” Crowley said.

He quickly dispelled a rumor the city of Marquette would charge people to access the park.

“That’s never been discussed within PIPAC in the six years I’ve been here,” Crowley said.

He noted another concern has been vehicle traffic mixing with walkers and bicyclists.

“We’re getting some folks from outside the area, which is good, but they’re also used to driving on roads that don’t necessarily have pedestrians, bikers, etc., alongside the road,” Crowley said.

Inconsistent walking hours have been another issue. So, PIPAC had been looking at hours that are more consistent and user-friendly, he said.

Current walking hours, when motorized vehicles aren’t permitted, are 6 to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 7 to 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Proposed walking hours are 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 7 to 10 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Andrew MacIver, assistant director of community services for the city of Marquette, agreed consistency has been a problem.

“We’re trying to make it little easier with our public works crew, with their rounds, making sure they can get the gate open in time,” MacIver said.

However, MacIver believes a trial beginning this summer is the best way to implement the new hours, with public feedback received in the fall.

He said the city also will look to remove the signs listing the current hours and install temporary signs with the new hours.

The Marquette City Commission will take up the issue at a work session scheduled for 5:15 p.m. April 1 in Commission Chambers at city hall. The session will include a public comment period.