The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Area villagers are given vision for Ontonagon harbor project


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SEVENTY-FIVE area residents were shown an artistic rendering of what the Ontonagon Trail Center could look like by 2035.


Ontonagon - Ontonagon Village residents Monday had an opportunity to see what the Ontonagon harbor could look like in 2035. Seventy-five attended the final report of the Sustainable Small Harbors project. Ontonagon was one of four harbor towns in Michigan awarded the project by the Michigan Sea Grant College. Michigan State University took the lead on the program assisted by other partners.

Mark Brederland, Michigan Sea Grant, and Brad Neuman Michigan State University, presented the final work compiled after three meetings with the public and officials this fall.

The final rendering was shown on the giant screen at the Ontonagon Theater of the Performing Arts. Brederland showed the visual of the Ontonagon waterfront as it is today and how it could be by 2035. He called residents and officials to "Big Picture thinking."

Connectivity was stressed, urging tying the marina to the rest of the community. Water taxi, work on bridges and other means to tie the area were shown. The men noted that the area on River Street where several businesses burned is now grass, but it ties to the Island area. It was suggested a bandshell or similar avenue could be built there for entertainment.

The alternative shown to the crowd was, according to presenters, had the majority of community votes and the final design includes converting the shipyard property into public beach access with a small amount of development. Rose Island has an extensive boardwalk and follows closely with the current parks and recreation plan.

Numerous small items to beautify the area were shown as well as larger endeavors. Small boat craft access to the end of the pier, now not available because of heavy current was suggested. If and when the former shipyard is available in the future, the schematics for development of that waterfront area were also included in the project.

Brederland said that Ontonagon was chosen for their study because of its "massive potential both industrial and recreational."

Ontonagon Village President Ken Waldrop Noted that Rose Island development will probably be the first priority since the village has already received a grant for some of the items noted on the map. "It could be the spring board for subsequently working on other projects of the study, he said.

Brederland asked the crowd how many were in Ontonagon in 1995? Two thirds of the crowd indicated they were in the area then. The Sea Grant official added "2035 is not as far away as it seems."

At the conclusion of the program, Waldrop encouraged the Village Council and the community not to put the study on a shelf but to work with it. State officials said the study has not ended until late 2016 and they will return with a "tool kit" on how to fund individual projects.

Waldrop said after the meeting he talked with Dave Anderson of Highland Copper who said that company would help in any way possible with the picture of the Village in 2035.


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