IRONWOOD - Developments centered on Ironwood's Depot Park, including visits from Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, were voted the Daily Globe's No. 5 story of the year.
When Calley visited Jacquart Fabric Products in the industrial park, Bob Jacquart, CEO, asked for a show of hands of people in the crowd who had worked on Depot Park improvements. About 30 hands shot up, or half of those at the gathering.
Bricks and sod were placed at the Depot, a pavilion was constructed and a volleyball court was laid out as a grant and great deal of volunteer help merged.
A crew of about 10 people placed 7,800 bricks that were sold for $100 apiece near the old railroad depot building.
The city received a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for $429,000 or the project. The city's match was $31,600.
The park will be the trailhead for Gov. Snyder's statewide non-motorized trail from Detroit to Ironwood.
"This is the beginning of a vision to connect all the way from the border of Wisconsin to the Ohio border," Calley told an audience of about 60 people at the Depot on a warm summer day.
Calley, 36, and Snyder said Michigan is making an economic comeback and people should think about what kind of future they want for their kids and grandkids, including recreational opportunities.
"It's shaping up as a beautiful park," Jacquart said, noting it will not only be used by bicyclists, but also snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle riders.
Snyder's proposed trail created controversy through 2013. Snyder proposed a northern route to extend through the Porcupine Mountains and into Ironwood from the Copper Peak area.
The Gogebic County Board of Commissioners backed a southern Upper Peninsula route, however, extending through the Marenisco and Watersmeet areas in the southern part of the county.
Near the end of the year, the Marenisco Town Board went on record supporting the southern route, saying because of existing trails, it would require fewer miles of new trail development.
A southern route would also provide greater accessibility to visitors from Wisconsin and lower Michigan, increasing recreational tourism, the town board said.
Whatever route is finalized, the trail will end at Depot Park here.
The revitalization of Depot Park was honored with the Michigan Municipal League's 2013 Community Excellence Award.
Ironwood officials accepted the award at the MML's annual convention in Detroit.
In the seven-year history of the award competition, Ironwood was the first recipient from the U.P.
"This award helps put us on the map - from the PR we get from this and for our project. It shows what our community has to offer," Mayor Kim Corcoran said.
Another offshoot of the park development was the opening of Ironwood's first farmers market.
The city commission waived all permit and fee requirements for the market to open on a trial basis in Depot Park.
The Ironwood Area Chamber of Commerce and local resident Rich Duncanson worked with the city to open the Old Depot Park Farmers and Artesian Market and vendors immediately signed up for it.
Community development director Michael Brown referred to the future of the park in saying, "We intend to have multiple events going on to attract a large crowd."