Ideas floating for Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, surrounding land

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Nearly all of the Lake Superior shoreline in Marquette is open to the public, and that access could soon be enhanced.

"We just don't want to be one of those communities that all of a sudden has hotels sprung up on the shoreline and it becomes private beach," said city manager Mike Angeli.

Fred Stonehouse, the president of the Marquette Maritime Museum board, says the city's lakeshore makes it unique.

"The city owns 95 percent of the lakeshore," said Stonehouse. "It's all ours, and it really is unique in the Great Lakes. If you've ever been to Traverse City, you've seen a city that has sold its soul to development."

Nearly a year ago, the city took ownership of the red, 151-year-old Marquette Harbor Lighthouse and surrounding land.

"It truly is an icon - not only of the City of Marquette but of the Great Lakes," said Stonehouse.

A study is underway to explore best uses for the land. Ideas are out there.

"We've applied for a grant that could be applied to turning some of it into an art center or something in that regard," said Angeli.

Stonehouse says the Maritime Museum has ideas. He wants the area to be named Lighthouse Point Park.

"We also would like to be able to take many of the big exhibits we have, for example, some of the boats and some of the heavy hardware, and intersperse it throughout the grounds of the property to continue to give that flavor of maritime to the general public," he said.

The city plans to continue its relationship with the museum for lighthouse tours.

The study should be finished by the end of September.

Marquette has already developed a plan for its two marinas.

"In this area, on this lake, they're not profitable," Angeli said. "I mean they don't even pay the expenses of running the marina."

At the Presque Isle Marina, the city is going to tear down two remaining piers and replace them with one, which will displace some boats, Angeli said.

"We then raise the rates on an annual basis to not only cover the annual expenses of running the marina but to build a reserve," he said. "Once the reserve is sufficient, and the need is also sufficient, we can add another pier if the time is right."

Plans do not include a marina at the Founders Landing development, but the city is set to use existing pilings off that shore by building a public pier. Marquette is required to either use the pilings or remove them.

That work is scheduled for summer 2018 along with improvements for Baraga Avenue all the way to the lakeshore. It will compliment ongoing work to build apartments, retail and parking next to the Hampton Inn.

Angeli says tax revenue generated under the Founder's Landing Brownfield Plan will cover the cost of the pier and the Baraga Avenue extension.

This is part two in a series of stories about the future of Marquette's lakeshore. Watch the TV6 Morning News Friday morning for details about the future for a troubled section of Lakeshore Boulevard. Click on the link in the related links section on this page to read and watch Wednesday's story about the future of Marquette's power plants.

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