Update on new Jacobetti home project positive

We think that there’s a lot to like in the plans being made to locate a new D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans at the former Cliffs-Dow site along Lakeshore Bouldvard in north Marquette.

A handful of officials connected with the project updated the public at a community forum last week.

According to the current proposal and plan, a single-story skilled nursing facility, approximately 157,000 square feet would be built to accommodate 108 beds — 18 beds in each “neighborhood.” The home would replace the current one at 425 Fisher St. in Marquette.

The idea is to make the facility a bit more home-like and less an institutional setting.

The total investment for the project is $97.6 million — $63.4 million in federal money and $34.2 million in state money.

The site’s industrial history makes construction of the type contemplated challenging.

EGLE representative Steve Harrington in a Mining Journal story on the matter, said the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company established the site in 1902, making pig iron for 30 years. Then in the mid-1930s, the Dow Chemical Company formed a collaboration with CCI and started making wood-derived chemicals.

“Unfortunately, that process created a lot of waste tar, and it is the tar that is the issue that has required some remediation, and it’s caused some groundwater contamination,” Harrington said. “So, the city continues to work on those issues, and it’s pretty well defined where the problems are and what the scope of the problem that remains is.”

Accounting for environmental issues, he noted, is expensive. However, he said it has to be proven that there is no way for any remaining chemicals to affect people that would use the property.

MVH CEO Anne Zerbe stressed that the site has not been finalized.

“We are in the process of doing some of that environmental investigation that would be required before the VA approves the site selection, before they even approve the design,” she said, pointing out that any construction at the site requires EGLE approval that the project is appropriate for the location.

Zerbe anticipates that a lot of the environmental work will wrap up this month, and MVH will make documents available for public transparency.

We hope the environmental pieces fall together for this project. Locating a new veterans home at the former Cliffs-Dow site would be a big win for the city.


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