Father Marquette Park soon to be city showpiece

What a fine and wonderful collaboration there’s been behind the effort to make improvements at Father Marquette Park.

The park, neatly situated atop a hill overlooking part of the Lower Harbor in Marquette, has seen quite a few changes in the past year or two, and a dedication ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. today to recognize the park’s new look.

We’d like to take the time to encourage our readers to stop by the park, which is located near the intersection of Front Street and Baraga Avenue. It should be a great way to commemorate the park’s improvements and show appreciation for all the hard work put into the project by the people who were involved with it.

One of the major players in the effort was the Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee, which is now celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Staffed entirely by volunteers, the committee put a lot of time and work into the project, and each of its members deserves a whole heap of praise.

Changes to the park include improving accessibility, lighting, security, irrigation and more.

A lot of people may not realize it, but the Iron Ore Heritage Trail actually runs alongside the park and Lakeshore Boulevard. On Monday, the placement of a large stone sculpture began to be installed at the park near the trail. Its artist, Ryan Brayak, said the sculpture looks like a canoe if the vessel was stood up on end. We think the art piece will make a nice marker for folks using the trail and will make the park a little more visible from Lakeshore Boulevard and the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, likely drawing more people to stop there and view some local history.

Another improvement made at the park is the flowers planted at Tami’s Garden, which is named after the Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee’s former president, Tami Dawidowski, who died suddenly in March 2017.

The garden is a tribute to the woman who helped get this project off the ground, much like another pretty noticeable improvement at the park, the newly built overlook and viewing deck. It’s called the Karl G. Zueger Scenic Overlook, named after the city of Marquette’s former community services director, Karl Zueger, who also played an integral part in the project.

The improvements wouldn’t be possible without the teamwork and collaboration of all these people, groups and the many others we’ve neglected to mention.

The project was awarded a $140,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant. For that, the beautification committee raised another $60,000 to provide the local match.

The city helped coordinate the grant application and other parts of the project, and the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority kicked in another $25,000 to be used on Brayak’s sculpture, benches and signage.

All told, this was a great community project to improve a piece of our local history and public space.

Father Marquette Park deserved a little sprucing up, and we’re glad the community came together and rose to the challenge. Now, let’s see if the community can come together again at 2 p.m. today to help dedicate it.