A COUPLE OF years ago, when it was first announced that Marquette was being given a one million dollar piece of beachfront property, everybody cheered. How wonderful! How generous!
How times have changed.
The Clark Lambros Beach Park, complete with a bathhouse, showers, parking, access for the handicapped, and eventually a boat launch, may now never happen. The City Commission, in a marathon session Monday night, raised so many questions about the “gift” before tabling the issue, that the donor, restaurateur/businesswoman Michele Butler, walked away, shaking her head and muttering, “That’s it. If they don’t want it, I’ll just sell it to a developer. I’m done.”
In the last two years, Butler has spent $100,000 on legal fees, appraisals, permits, and environmental studies in an attempt to complete the property transfer to the city. It’s a complicated deal involving the Department of Natural Resources Land Trust but it requires virtually no money from the city upfront.
Butler’s donating the property to honor her longtime partner Clark Lambros (of Vango’s fame) who passed away a couple of years ago. It’s something he wanted. It’s something his family wants. But apparently it’s something the city isn’t so sure about.
There are concerns.
1) Minor contamination has been found on the 10 acres of land but apparently nothing serious. Hell, half of Marquette’s coastline is “contaminated.” We’ve still managed to develop it beautifully.
2) There’s opposition to locating any sort of structure–including a bathhouse–near the Lake.
3) There’s concern about any future costs at the park. Butler’s putting up $250,000 to cover that. Critics say that’s not enough.
4) And some don’t like the idea that Butler will likely sell another property adjacent to the park to a private developer.
Commissioners were cautiously picking at the deal as though it was an interesting but stinky bit of flotsam that had washed up onto the shore.
But the problem is this: All of this beachfront property, as it stands right now, is Butler’s private property even though the public uses it. However, if this gift is refused, then Butler could sell the entire property, including the “park,” to a private developer.
You can easily imagine the Marquette City Commission in 2025 saying, “Seriously? We had a chance to take ownership of this beachfront property ten years ago? For free? And we turned it down??”
Yep, by that time, it could well be privately owned and developed, complete with “No Trespassing” signs.
You gotta hope the city can get past its concerns and graciously accept a gift. You gotta hope also that a frustrated Butler can cool off and finish what she started more than two years ago to honor one of the city’s most treasured citizens.
FIRST IT WAS reborn. Now it plans to rename itself.
L’Attitude, the restaurant/bar that closed down earlier this spring, then reopened under new management, has decided it’s time for a re-branding. And it wants your help.
Here’s how it’s gonna work. Starting this Saturday, it’ll ask its customers to write out suggestions for a new name. Give ’em the suggested new name along with your name and contact information, and if your name is the winner (to be chosen by the staff), you’ll get a $250 gift certificate for the restaurant.
Nice idea. Democratic. Populist. Community-involved. Free marketing.
You’ll have two weeks to get your suggested names in.
The re-booting of L’Attitude, which in the past has suffered from too many changes and occasionally dreadful service, seems to be successful so far. Good food, capable service. Of course, summers are easy. Let’s see what happens when the snow flies.
One more thing about the name: For too many of its patrons, the name was always pronounced “L’Attitudes” with an “s.” Incorrect. It’s singular. Let’s hope the new name poses no such ambiguities.
SOME FOLKS ARE wondering why the New York Deli closed for renovations just as the peak tourist season was beginning. Is it closing down? Moving?
Nope and nope.
It’s just, as the contractor put it, that they got their ducks in a row at this point and decided to move ahead with the job. It’ll be closed down for another month or so while the building undergoes a major and much-needed renovation.
The boxlike old building wasn’t exactly ready for Architectural Digest. The new version, designed by architect Dax Richer, should look slick.
With the new hospital campus being built just a couple of blocks away, it’s easy to see why a restaurateur would covet this location. Plenty of new customers.
In fact, you gotta believe that all property surrounding the new hospital campus looks a lot more valuable to investors than it did just a year ago.
SO YOU’D THINK with the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, there’d be a rush to the altar.
Not really. Latest word from Marquette County Clerk Linda Talsma is that six gay and lesbian couples have officially and legally tied the knot in the county since the ruling came down.
No big deal, apparently. The County Clerk’s office is just processing applications and issuing licenses as it always has.
And when you think about, that’s good. No need for splashy media exposure, no protests, no need to say “Look at us!!” It’s just people who are in love deciding to make a commitment to one another.
What’s remarkable is the change in society’s attitude toward gay marriage in the last decade. It’s almost revolutionary. It gives you hope that, even in a flawed and messy democracy like ours, we can eventually rectify our other political, social and economic wrongs.
(End of sermon.)
THERE COULD BE some big techie excitement in Marquette next spring.
Travel Marquette (old, boring name: Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau) is continuing with its plans to stage a Smartzone conference on April 13th and 14th. They haven’t decided on a catchy new name for the get-together yet.
But the hope is they’ll attract smartzone types–techies, entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, and academics–from all over Michigan and beyond with a series of conferences, events and speakers over the two days.
The biggest feature will be the “Smartprize” to be awarded to the best new idea for a business. Actually, they’ll hand out a few prizes–one to be voted on by the public here in Marquette, another to be awarded by an expert jury, and others still to be decided on.
Should be fun. And lucrative. No word yet on exactly how much will be awarded, but it’ll be enough to help get a business off the ground.
All of this will happen in April which, as we all know, means we could have a blizzard, a beach day or something in between. In any case, it’s not tourist season, all the more reason to like the idea because it will help fill the restaurants, hotels and streets at a time when most people don’t venture this far north.
Question of the Day: Would it be possible to vote for “none of the above” in the 2016 Presidential election?
You got news? Click Here to email Brian.