MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Marquette City Mayor Fred Stonehouse performed the official ribbon cutting Thursday on Marquette’s newest park, officially named Lighthouse Park.
"This is a wonderful park for the people in the City of Marquette. It really is a prime piece of property. I would argue that pound for pound it’s probably better than what we have in Presque Isle. It’s a place for people to come and enjoy not only the view, but the sense of history of being here," Stonehouse announced.
The ribbon cutting was the final step in this newest construction project which passersby and neighboring residents are well-aware has been ongoing all summer.
"The project itself really began back in 2002 when the Marquette Maritime Museum was able to obtain a long term historic structures lease with the Coast Guard for the Lighthouse," Stonehouse asserted.
According to Mayor Stonehouse, the Maritime Museum recognized the historical value of the lighthouse. Since then, the project has been a rather complex collaboration between the Maritime Museum, the City of Marquette and the United States Coast Guard.
Marquette City Manager, Mike Angeli says it was up to the Parks and Recreation Department and the Community Services Department along with Oberstar Inc. to follow through with the park vision.
"The accessibility has changed. You don't have to go through McCarty's Cove anymore. We've created a whole new entrance off of Arch Street and Lake Shore Blvd. The bike or pedestrian access has been improved tremendously. Now there's a clearly delineated bike path,” Angeli declared.
There's well defined parking and signage so that even visitors from out of town can easily come and go safely.
Hilary Billman, Director of the Marquette Maritime Museum says she hopes foot and vehicle traffic runs more smoothly from now on.
"It's a lot safer back here and there's a lot more parking spaces for people that want to visit the museum and the lighthouse and the park. Just make sure if you are a bicyclist or a pedestrian please stay on the bike path," Billman requested.
The layout was designed with the well-being of Lake Superior, neighboring residents and visitors in mind.
"The landscaping has been improved quite a bit. It actually looks nicer now. There's not a lot of gravel and dirt. There's a lot of grass. The runoff we've created doesn't go into the lake. It's retained on sight. We took all those things into consideration," Angeli reasoned.
The historic milestone actually sets the landscape for the future of the park to preserve the historical value of lighthouse which is still used as an active aid to navigation 182 years after original construction and the last life-saving station still standing on Lake Superior.
“This is the beginning stage. We've set the groundwork to move on to the next steps which are re-using and refurbishing the buildings that are on sight, developing a plan to keep the lighthouse in good working order,” Angeli stated.
You may have heard about future plans for the keeper’s house, adjacent to the lighthouse.
"It's actually in the plan to turn it into a short-term rental. One of the next phases we're going to do is to get inside that building and remodel it and bring it up to code for people to actually rent on a short-term basis. By all accounts we should have that ready to go by next summer I would think. Then after that we’re going to move into dealing with the [Life-Saving Service Station] itself and turning that into something that can be an asset to the public as well. Though we haven't decided exactly what that is yet,” Angeli concluded.
The Marquette Maritime Museum and Lighthouse will remain open through late-October with several upcoming events.