IT LOOKS LIKE the city of Marquette might finally take possession of the old Coast Guard property later this year.
The deal has taken a mere six years to be consummated.
You might remember that Marquette and the Coast Guard traded properties on Lake Superior back in 2009, and the Coast Guard immediately built its shiny, new Coast Guard station on its new parcel, and the city…? Well, the city and its residents got to watch as “No Trespassing” signs were posted all around its 5.5 acres of land.
The city couldn’t actually take possession until the federal government went through its lengthy, tedious, frustrating process of…whatever the hell it does…when it trades properties with a city.
But now, six years later, after some coaxing and prodding by city officials, the property might soon actually belong to Marquette.
The Coast Guard has completed its environmental remediation plan for the site and has turned it over to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. That agency is expected to sign off on the plan within a month, and the remediation, which is minor, should take another month and then…Bingo!…the city gets to move in.
The site, which contains the lighthouse, the station house and the light keeper’s house along with other buildings, will be opened up as a park. Exactly how it will be used and what other improvements might be done to the site will be up to the City Commission.
Two stipulations, though: 1) the historical buildings must be preserved, and 2) there can be no commercial development.
It’ll be a gorgeous piece of coastal property for all of us to enjoy. Maybe it was worth the six year wait.
PALADINO’S, THE LITTLE cafe on the bottom level of the Peter White Public Library, is closing down at the end of the month.
No surprise. No one’s been able to make a go of it there, and others have tried.
Paladino’s features great food–farm-to-table, eclectic, creative, delicious–but there’s simply not enough foot traffic and potential diners to make the library location a profitable enterprise. Library cafes may work in bigger cities but apparently not here.
It’s uncertain what happens next in the space. The library’s got enough problems as it is, like how to stay open with rapidly declining tax revenues.
As for Andrew Sear, the talented chef at Paladino’s, he’ll look for other work around town, he’ll continue his progress toward getting a Masters at NMU where he also teaches, and he’ll devote a ton of his energy to the nonprofit Partridge Creek Farm project in Ishpeming.
SPEAKING OF WHICH, Partridge Creek Farm has the potential to be huge. In 3-4 years, the national media could be clamoring for a look at it.
If you haven’t followed the story, here’s what the group, led by Dan Perkins, is doing. With the help of more than 200 volunteers, they’re growing a variety crops on two plots of land in Ishpeming–little urban farms that have come to life thanks to grants, business donations, some creative thinking, and a whole lot of sweat equity.
The harvested crops are given to the volunteers or are sold at the Farmers Market where revenues are then plowed back into the nonprofit.
But that’s just the start of the project. Now Partridge Creek is making plans to open up a 22,000 square foot building on Main Street (owned by Perkins) as an indoor “food center,” for lack of a better term.
The facility, if it pans out, will include a canning operation, a meat processing center, a teaching kitchen, a hydroponic crop operation, a deli, a cafe, and classrooms. The idea will be to teach children and adults not only how to grow their own food but how to process, pack and cook it. Add some value to it.
They’ll learn, they’ll become more independent and healthier, and many will find jobs, either at the “food center” or elsewhere in the industry.
Big hopes. Big dreams. The dreamers are Perkins, Sear (the cooking expert) and Ray Bush (the farming expert).
They’ve generated support, they’ve mobilized an army.
The sleepy town of Ishpeming could truly come alive in the next few years.
HARVEY IS ABOUT to get another fast food option.
It’ll be a hamburger joint, independently owned and operated next to Main Street Pizza. Actually the two restaurants will be joined into a food court. Go left for pizza, right for burgers.
No name for the “hamburger joint” (that’s how the owner describes it, by the way) yet and it likely won’t open for another month while construction continues, but the menu will include not only burgers but also brats, chicken, fries, onion rings and the like.
In other words, all the foods we’re not supposed to eat but which most of us love.
It’ll be interesting to see how an independent fast food joint does here; McDonalds is located about a quarter mile away.
WE’RE NOW GETTING a little clarity on the recent ousting of Al Keefer as the executive director of the Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council which runs the Vista Theater and the Vista Thrift Shop in Negaunee.
Keefer, a respected arts leader, had held the job for 22 years.
The official word is that the council and the theater wanted to “move in another direction.” A lovely, meaningless euphemism.
What it actually wanted was a new direction, clearer focus and better organization. Fresh blood. There was a perception that the Vista had become stagnant.
Andrew “Bear” Tyler and Lucas Wickstrom are the new co-executive directors. So far, they’ve managed to take 5.5 tons of garbage or unsellable items from the thrift store to the dump, they’ve cleaned up the thrift store, they’ve re-opened the charming, old box office, they’re fixing the marquee, and they’re pursuing grants for more funding.
Transitions can be tough, but sometimes they’re necessary.
KUDOS TO WES Vear, a Marquette Senior High School graduate and former captain of the University of Michigan Men’s Rowing Club.
He (fourth from the left, hand raised) and his eight man crew just won the Summer World University Games in South Korea. It’s a big deal. These are all star collegiate teams from all over the world.
Wes is is the son of Tom Vear and Jen Ray, the owners of Donckers.
He was a star swimmer while he was in high school but discovered rowing with the Upper Peninsula Rowing Club here in Marquette, and then became one of the stalwarts for the U of M rowing team.
Now he’s a world champion.
By the way, the UPRC has sent four youth rowers on to major collegiate rowing teams. Not bad for a club that has had to fight the climate, the currents, and the controversies (over its proposed boat house) while rowing here in Marquette.
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