LOTTA QUESTIONS ABOUT that large and highly visible timber cut along M-553 near Marquette Mountain.
It’s gotta be for something really big, right? Not really.
It’s actually for a natural gas line–20 inches wide that narrows to 10 inches— that Semco is having installed, according to Jon Swenson, the city’s director of community services.
The swath of downed trees near the ski hill is 70 feet wide, according to Swenson.
“They (Semco) said they needed it to maintain the line,” Swenson says, “and we’re hoping the impact will be minimal.” The impact on trails, he explains, fortunately is minimal.
But why 70 feet for a 10 inch line? First, there’s a 40 foot easement for such projects, and then Semco said it needed another 30 feet for work zones. To get big equipment in and such. The swath of cut trees, in fact, does narrow in other places.
Still, it does seem like a bit of overkill. A couple of local builders have made that very point.
But the trees are down. Not much we can do about it now. And as Swenson points out, this is part of the price we pay for getting new gas lines installed and for getting rid of two coal-fired plants.
And heck, in another 20-30 years, those big pines will be back.
SO A NEW hotel is coming to town. The Fairfield Inn will be building on the last vacant Founders Landing parcel on US 41, across from the lakefront.
Ninety rooms planned, three stories high.
If there was any doubt about Marquette emerging as a serious tourist destination, this should end it.
Consider: the Hampton Inn on the Lake opened in 2012, Staybridge Suites opened in 2016, and My Place in 2017. Furthermore, Holiday Inn just completed a massive renovation of its property, and the Landmark Inn is currently undertaking one so that it can become one of Marriott’s prestigious boutique hotels.
Still, do we need yet another hotel so soon?
“I can tell you on some weekends, we don’t seem to have enough room for all the people coming to town,” says city commissioner Jenna Smith. “And I would assume a big hotel chain would do significant market research before they came in and built a hotel.”
Travel Marquette’s Susan Estler agrees. “I’m sure they (Marriott, the parent company of Fairfield Inn) feel it’s a good fit,” she says. “It’s near the waterfront. It should do well.”
Good point. And some of the higher end hotels are charging upwards of $200 a room during the busiest times of the summer. Why not try to get in on some of that action?
Tourism has become a major driver of Marquette’s economy and that trend will almost certainly increase in the years ahead. (Pause for booing from the bleachers to subside.)