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Heartwood parcel sold

Marquette City Manager Mike Angeli, right, addresses some of the concerns regarding the Heartwood Trail Management Agreement Monday at Marquette City Hall during Marquette City Commission meeting as Commissioner Fred Stonehouse looks on. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)

MARQUETTE — A portion of the Heartwood Forestland owned by the city of Marquette has been sold to the Noquemanon Trail Network, which includes a 25-acre parcel located roughly between Division Street and M-553.

The Marquette City Commission voted unanimously on Monday to execute a purchase agreement for the city to sell parcel 13 of the Heartwood Forestland. The $96,000 purchase price is 80% of the parcel’s appraised value. The parcel includes NTN’s established South Trails Trailhead, parking lot, pavilion and pump track.

Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill made the motion to adopt the agreement for sale. The commission conducted a roll-call vote and approved the purchase of the property. The second roll-call vote was motioned by Commissioner Evan Bonsall and the commission unanimously voted to adopt plans under the Heartwood Trail Management Agreement.

Prior to the vote, a few area residents shared their opinions on why the city should move forward with this purchase.

“As I’m sure you’re all aware of the impact the NTN has had on our community in terms of improving our quality of life and make Marquette a destination city for tourists,” NTN President Cary Gottlieb said, adding, “Our goals for parcel 13, assuming you approve the sale, is to move the parking lot entrance from a dangerous spot on County Road 553 to Division (Street) where traffic is less and slower. We’ll also develop infrastructure on the property including toilets, a storage building, pump track, additional trails and ultimately, ideally our offices. At the same time, we’ll keep the majority of the property as it is: natural and beautiful.”

Other parties supported the clause to approve the sale of parcel 13, including Matt Torreano of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, noting that this property would be an asset to the NTN and how it has played an important role in the city. Torreano also mentioned that if the city approves the purchase, it should work together with the NTN and DNR to table what management is allowed under the agreement.

“We have significant concerns regarding what this would mean for the other trails in the Heartwood Forestland property, particularly the motorized trails. So the department would like to ask that you approve the sale of parcel 13 and table the (Heartwood Trail Management Agreement) until we can work together to find a solution that involves all the stakeholders, both motorized and non-motorized, in the solution,” Torreano said.

The NTN originally sent a letter to Marquette City Manager Mike Angeli that expressed a motion to work with the city to develop and maintain amenities for the trail system. The HTMA includes revenue-sharing components with different groups hosting events, and those funds will be administered by the city to cover maintenance on the Heartwood property.

The HTMA’s main purpose is to “establish the scope of physical trail facilities and their respective locations, along with the means and methods by which the Trail Manager shall develop, manage and maintain those trail facilities under this HTMA,” according to city documents. This plan will be discussed at the annual Trail Management Plan meeting that will take place each spring between the city of Marquette Community Services Department and the NTN.

“I’m excited to move this forward and I just think that the city and everybody involved in this process has been doing a great job in order to get where we are today,” Commissioner Paul Schloegel said.

Bonsall also brought up the issue of event scheduling and how long that process takes, to which Angeli said it takes approximately 30 days.

“The NTN has been managing the Heartwood Trail system for almost 14 years now, based on a permit that was granted back in 2006. This agreement is changing nothing other than putting that arrangement into writing,” Angeli said. “We are giving them control primarily for scheduling and planning events only. This is not going to somehow any way forbid or restrict the use of the trail system for everyday users. It certainly will not affect the snowmobile trails.”

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.