Commission OKs lakeshore land deal

Dave Campana, member, Marquette City Commission

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission on Monday unanimously approved a land agreement with Islander Beach and Tennis Club LLC that provides the city with the additional right-of-way needed for its multi-million dollar Lakeshore Boulevard relocation project, as well as property needed to redirect Hawley Street stormwater infrastructure. The agreement also allows the club to prepare its own parcel for subsequent sale and development, city officials said.

The agreement allows the city to gain a .13-acre parcel “necessary for the relocation of Lakeshore Boulevard,” as well as the .2-acre parcel needed for the city’s Hawley Street stormwater project, as the club has agreed to deed the two parcels to the city, according to city notes.

In exchange for this, the agreement allows the club to prepare its parcel at 2401 Lakeshore Blvd. for subsequent sale and development, “which will inherently increase the city tax base,” city notes state.

However, development of the club’s property will disturb “several small isolated wetlands,” and it is anticipated that the state will “require the developer to create new mitigated wetlands to replace any that are lost due to this development,” according to city officials.

Due to this, the city would allow the club to build new wetlands on city property in exchange for the two small parcels for the Hawley Street and Lakeshore Boulevard projects, as the acquisition of the .2-acre parcel by the city is “necessary to improve water quality by re-routing the Hawley Street storm drain through the newly created wetland,” city notes state.

It’s been a long road to get to this point, commissioners and city officials said, as the process began several years ago with the creation of the Clark Lambros Beach Park along Lakeshore Boulevard due to the donation of land and funds by a group led by Michele Butler, owner of Vango’s Restaurant in Marquette and longtime business partner of Clark Lambros.

At that time, project consultant Bill Sanders said the family was negotiating for additional property that would allow the Hawley Street drain — which currently goes to Lake Superior — to be moved north so it could flow into wetlands along the Dead River.

“We agreed to this when (we) bought and formed Clark Lambros Park, and this will make that area better. It will have stormwater drainage,” Commissioner Dave Campana said. “As opposed to going straight into Lake Superior, it will go into living wetlands.”

Commissioner Jenn Hill asked for additional details on the timeline for the projects and steps that would be taken following commission approval of the land agreement.

“There is a bid project that’s out — supported by the city and the Superior Watershed Partnership — to actually install the new culvert under Hawley Street. It will direct stormwater. Instead of directing into Lake Superior in the east, it will go north,” Sanders told Hill. “And also as part of that is the creation of additional, or I should say, restoration of wetlands, to take that water from Hawley Street and direct it towards north, filtering that before it gets into the Dead River. So this land transfer will allow that project to occur on city property. And in essence, what it does — the original grant application had that culvert at about 350 feet long because we had to outlet to city property, so by this land transferring to the city, that allows you to make that culvert 50 feet long — so it saves a ton of money in construction of that.”

The city aims to complete the stormwater project by the end of the year, City Manager Mike Angeli told Hill, as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant the city received with the Superior Watershed Partnership and the Islander Beach and Tennis Club to partially fund the project expires at the end of this year.

The Lakeshore Boulevard relocation project is expected to take place in summer 2020, with funds to be allocated in the fiscal year 2020 budget, Angeli said.

The proposed development of the property owned by the Islander Beach and Tennis Club will require around 1.9 acres of wetland mitigation, Sanders said, noting that a permit application for the mitigation has been filed with the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and Environment.

“The upland that’s currently part of Clark (Lambros) park would be converted to wetland. There’s roughly about 5 acres there. But I guess the way we’re kind of looking at it is, it’s not so much a mitigation project, but it’s an opportunity to restore wetlands on parcels that were designated as part of a park for that purpose,” he said. “And essentially, those wetlands would be restored to the benefit of all of us, really at no cost to the city because the developer would be paying that as part of the mitigation. So the landowner gets the benefit of having mitigation lands available close by and the city gets to have those areas restored to wetland to the benefit of the Dead River.”

The property privately owned by Islander Beach and Tennis Club, officials said, will not be developed into a club or resort, but rather, is expected to be a housing development.

Commissioner Pete Frazier was absent from the meeting.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.