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Commissioners weigh in on long-term plans

MARQUETTE — With the recent damage to Lakeshore Boulevard, several members of the Marquette City Commission have weighed in on the city’s long-term plans regarding the road and lakeshore in general.

“The city of Marquette already has projects in progress to address the erosion concerns along our lakeshore. We will be having broader conversations regarding our entire lakeshore in the near future,” Marquette Mayor Jenna Smith said in an email Wednesday. “Funding for these expensive stabilizations is always an issue. It will be important to determine what we’d like to do in an ideal world, and then also determine what we can realistically accomplish with our limited resources.”

While securing funding can be a challenge, Commissioner Paul Schloegel said in an email that it is “very important to point out that the claims by others that Marquette has no plan to deal with high water levels, we’ve been irresponsible dealing with our shoreline, or we’ve been ignoring climate change — these claims are very wrong.”

This statement was echoed by Commissioner Fred Stonehouse, who said: “the city has a plan to deal with lakeshore erosion/damage related problems” that it has worked to develop over the past two decades.

A major part of this plan will soon come to fruition, as the first phase of the Lakeshore Boulevard relocation project will begin this spring. This work will move the road between Wright and Hawley streets — now only a few feet from the water in some areas — hundreds of feet inland.

“I commend the city’s attention given to redesigning Lakeshore Boulevard and support the plan to move, elevate and fortify the shoreline,” Commissioner Andrew Lorinser said. “It’s time to listen to Mother Nature. We also have to be mindful that there’s an entire shoreline to think about, not just one mile on Lakeshore Boulevard.”

While the situation in Marquette will continue to require a great deal of time, effort and resources, Stonehouse emphasized that “the challenges we face in Marquette are minor compared to those of Great Lakes communities where prior planning was not accomplished.”

“That the city is in relatively good shape and working to a long-term solution stands in powerful testimony to the great work done by past commissions and city staff,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill and Commissioners Peter Frazier and Evan Bonsall did not respond to requests for comment before press time Friday night.

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