MARINETTE—The water fountain at Heritage Park in Menekaunee is not working properly and, according to some, it has turned into an eyesore.
The Marinette Parks and Recreation Committee last week discussed what should be done with the fountain. Since it’s nearly time to shut it down for the winter, nothing was decided at this time.
“We have a lot of time,” Alderperson Dorothy Kowalski said, “We won’t let it (the issue) drop.”
Heritage Park is located on Hosmer Street, next to Auto Plus and across the street from Applejacks. Mayor Steve Genisot said the city spends about $2,000 per year on the fountain. The late Sandy Saunier, a former alderperson and longtime Menekaunee resident, spearheaded the drive to raise $5,000 for the item.
Superintendent of Public Works Pat Carlson said it takes work to keep the fountain in operation. “It’s working, but there’s a lot of maintenance,” he said. “The water bills have gone extremely through the roof.”
Alderperson Liz Mikutowski said the fountain and the park have historical significance and are a “mirror of who we are.”
“I do want to highlight the historical significance of that area,” she said. “Those fisherman going right down Hosmer, to the boat landing. It’s not kept up as nicely as it could be. Whatever we decide to do with that area—we have a fishing heritage in this community—I would like to see us pay tribute to the fishing families, some of whom are still down in that area. They were here before this community was here.”
Mikutowski said the fountain, as it stands now, is an eyesore.
“In my opinion, it looks blighted,” she said. “It has not looked the way it could or should. I don’t think it looks good.”
Alderman Ken Keller said he had reservations when this project first began.
“A fountain of that nature is going to be a problem from Day 1,” he said, adding that the park might look better with perennials planted there in place of the fountain.
“I go by there every day and to be honest with you, I never see anyone in that park,” Keller said.
Sharon Powilaites, a Menekaunee resident, addressed the committee and had some questions. She asked whether or not a dawn-to-dusk timer could be installed, stating that it would save on water usage and wear and tear on the pump. She asked what would be put in its place if the fountain is removed and if the current fountain could be sold. She also wondered if a gazebo could be placed in the park, like there was decades ago.
Carlson said the water is supposed to recycle but high winds or rain knock it out of sync. “The water replenish (mode) then kicks in,” he said.
Powilaites said she has used a branch to clear some of the holes in the fountain from dirt and debris. “I noticed the fountain is getting kind of green and slimy,” she added. “I don’t know how often that needs to be brushed or whatever. I was seeing if I can do something with that.”
Kowalski assured that the fountain issue will not be forgotten.
Dan Kitkowski can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
LANSING, Mich.—Upper Peninsula legislators have expressed outrage with the State Historic Preservation Office and the State Historic Preservation Review Board. The board, which is staffed by and informed by SHPO, determined Friday that the land bordering the Menominee River near a proposed mine site should be added to the federal registry of historic places. This action was taken in response to a request from a Wisconsin group that has been actively seeking to stop mining in both states for decades.
“This action is a flagrant taking of private property rights and opportunities,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township said in a joint press release with other UP lawmakers. “Our state entities should not have even considered this non-Michigan group. What’s even more shocking is that property owners only get a vote to reject this, not to adopt it and that it’s based on individual owners with no weighting for acres owned.”
Representative Cambensy, D-Marquette, said, “The future of our green economy depends on these minerals and the U.P. future could be bright with these jobs. The constant fight against such mining projects, when we have the most stringent environmental safeguards in the world, only forces the investment and jobs to be done somewhere else with lower wages and concern for the environment.”
The Back Forty project is primarily a zinc and gold operation with several smaller precious metals also in abundance. The mine site plan has been going through more than a decade of site permitting to make sure it can be done safely for people and the environment.
“SHPO and the board ignored the work they and the mining company had already done regarding the Native American History of the site,” said Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain. “It is clearly a blind capitulation to these out-of-state interests to grant this designation now when they had not found it justifiable in the past.”
SHPO has recently become one of the main blocks to economic development in the Upper Peninsula. Last month, the office devastated the opportunity to remove more than a dozen dilapidated, moldy, dangerous buildings on the former KI Sawyer Airforce Base. Marquette County had secured more than $12 million to remove those buildings, making way for several manufacturers to expand their operations and job forces. SHPO determined the buildings, vacant for 30 years, could not be removed until a more thorough vetting process and collection of history was completed. This triggered additional scrutiny from the federal agencies and could result in years of delays.
“When the director of SHPO told me the buildings were of ‘value to the people of Michigan’ I was incredulous,” said McBroom. “Even after touring these buildings and recognizing the need to demolish them, this agency chose to work against the county’s bottom line and the opportunity for economic growth and jobs.”
“SHPO has also caused trouble for us on the trail reconstruction in Houghton County,” said Rep. Greg Markkanen. “It is urgent that new leadership of this office and the board be had before they hinder other important projects for our communities across the U.P. and Michigan.”
The U.P. legislative team is planning legislation to defund and reform the SHPO along with a formal resolution condemning their recent actions and calling for the removal of the present director and staff.
“We don’t need SHPO becoming the new ‘DEQ’ up here,” said LaFave.