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Commission OKs sale of lakeshore property

Pictured is the residence at 702 N. Lakeshore Blvd., in Marquette. The city commission has voted in favor of purchasing the property and preserving it for public use. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

MARQUETTE — The city of Marquette will soon have its hands on another piece of lakeshore property.

The Marquette City Commission voted 7-0 at its April 26 meeting to approve a purchase agreement with the Robert T. Anthony Trust for the sale of 702 N. Lakeshore Blvd. The private residential property at the corner of Lakeshore and Hewitt Avenue lies on the Lake Superior side of the street, and the city intends to preserve the land for public use.

The proposed sale was first brought to the commission at its April 12 meeting, when it voted to authorize City Manager Mike Angeli to enter the negotiation phase.

The city will pay $350,000 for the property, which will be taken from its General Fund. The sale price is $115,000 more than the property’s appraised value of $235,000. The $350,000 price tag was reached due to the unique value and location of the property.

While the price may be eye-popping to some city residents, it was most likely a bargain compared to what a private developer may have been willing to fork up, and preserving the lakeshore for public use was an important reason as to why the city wanted to acquire the land.

“In my entire history, I’ve never been aware that the city has been anywhere near possible developing property on that (lakeshore) side of the street,” Angeli said at the April 12 meeting. “There have been absolutely no plans in place and any future use will be left to a future commission or this commission.”

Commissioner Evan Bonsall said at the April 26 meeting that the purchase was an important step in preserving the lakeshore.

“I think that we had a good discussion about this at our previous meeting,” he said. “I’m very excited that this deal ended up working out. The reason the city is purchasing this property is to preserve it for public use. I certainly think that all of us on the commission agree that this property should be preserved permanently for public use and conservation, and that’s the plan. I think that this is a really important step for us to take.

“The city has long, for generations and generations, made it a priority to preserve our public lakeshore. That’s really one of the most important aspects of what makes Marquette a unique community and a great place to live. I think that we need to continue to follow in those footsteps of previous commissions who acquired and preserved public property on the lakeshore, and I think that this action is going to be fulfilling that.”

Specific plans for the 6,727-square foot property have not yet been discussed, but included in the purchase agreement was the stipulation that the city include recognition of the history of the location and its relationship to the Anthony family.

Rezoning of the property from its current status of “medium density residential,” into “conservation-recreation” is likely to occur in the future, but not necessary quite yet until the city has clearer plans in place for the property.

“According to what was said in the (April 12) city commission meeting, the legislative body will be engaging in a process to identify and evaluate alternative uses for the property,” City Planner and Zoning Administrator Dave Stensaas said in a previous Journal article. “It seems logical that depending on what is decided, a plan for re-use would follow and that would need to include rezoning the property into conservation-recreation status for uses that augment Shiras Park and public access to it.”

≤ Ore Dock Brewing eyes purchase of property for beer garden

The commission voted 7-0 on April 26 to enter negotiations with Ore Dock Brewing Company for the sale of vacant land at 213 S. Front St., directly behind Ore Dock’s building at 114 W. Spring St.

Should the sale go through, Ore Dock intends to transform the property into an urban outdoor beer garden with ample seating for patrons, staff areas, a stage and more, as portrayed by a rendering the brewery drafted in 2014.

Before a purchase agreement is finalized, the city has requested Ore Dock order a survey and appraisal of the property, as well as an updated rendering of the space. Ore Dock submitted the 2014 rendering to the commission to show that its plans for a beer garden have been in the works for years. The brewery never decided to go through with it until now, in a time where outdoor dining and social spaces have become a hot commodity.

“The drawing that’s included in the (commission) packet is a rendering that was done several years ago when we looked at the space,” said Ore Dock co-owner Andrea Pernsteiner. “We were very encouraged by the possibility of the green space, but in the end decided not to move forward at that time.

“However, in light of the last year and a half, and the increased interest in outdoor space, we recognized that this was something that we wanted to move forward with at this time. In using that drawing, that does give us an idea of what is capable in that space. If you walk by and look at it, it doesn’t seem like it’s a very large space, but a lot can be done.

“We wanted to provide that so the commission has the knowledge that we have gone through the process of what could possible go there and we hope to create something similar, but possibly slightly altered in today’s times.”

While plans are not set in stone and there are still questions to be answered, the commission voiced its support for the project.

“I think it’s a great use of an empty space and I think it would be a great thing for our city to have, especially with the outdoor drinking capability in that respect,” Commissioner Jessica Hanley said.

Commissioner Fred Stonehouse said, “It’s a pleasure to see a local business grow and prosper and help to define the city of Marquette.”

≤ NTN plans bicycle playground at Tourist Park

The Noquemanon Trails Network Council has requested a permit from the city to build a non-motorized bicycle playground at Tourist Park. The commission approved the permit in a 7-0 vote on April 26.

The initial rendering deems the project the “906 Bicycle Playground,” which will lie in a wooded area near the former ball field area adjacent to the Tourist Park access road. NTN has partnered with the 906 Adventure Team for project funding and design. The playground will consist of a looped trail with skill development features and obstacles, intended for use by new or amateur mountain bikers to gain necessary skills in a controlled setting before hitting the trails, city documents state.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board recommended the commission approve the permit at its April 19 meeting.

Plans for the bicycle playground have been in the works since 2013, when the Tourist Park Land Use Plan was adopted that same year. Several pump tracks and bicycle playgrounds have popped up in the area, such as the pump track at Marquette Alternative High School in Marquette Township.

“I would only point out that this is another example of the great working relationship the city of Marquette has with the NTN,” Stonehouse said.

Commissioner Sally Davis said, “This looks like a very nice addition to our trail network and I think our city is very fortunate to have the NTN involved in the trail network. I’m also pleased that we can see that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board voted to reccomend this to us.”

The permit went into effect Saturday and is good through April 30, 2026. Should the NTN want to keep the playground in place after the permit expires, along with providing continuous maintenance and upkeep, it will go back to the commission for reapproval at that time.

Unlike several pump tracks and playgrounds across the U.S. which are constructed with concrete and metal, the Tourist Park project will consist of material that blends with the natural setting of its location.

No timetable for construction was announced.

≤ Other business

In other business conducted at the April 26 meeting, the commission voted 7-0 to add a section of Baraga Avenue east of Lakeshore Boulevard into the city’s street system, which will allow the city to receive an additional $387 annually in revenue from the Michigan Public Act 51 of 1951. The commission also approved a resolution to start the process of issuing General Obligation Bonds for Fiscal Year 2021 projects, which passed 7-0. The bond amount is not to exceed $6.2 million for capital improvements. Another resolution will be necessary for a final amount at a later date.

The commission also heard a presentation from the Marquette Area Sister Cities Partnership, and appointed Tara Laase-McKinney to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for an unexpired term ending Jan. 29, 2023.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.

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