Shoreline project options being evaluated

MARQUETTE – The public will have an opportunity Wednesday to offer input on a handful of conceptual designs for the future of a long stretch of Marquette shoreline.

The meeting – hosted by the city of Marquette and the Superior Watershed Partnership at 6:30 p.m. at Lakeview Arena – will focus on the planning process for a half-mile stretch of public lakeshore between Hawley and Wright streets.

“There is a whole broad range of choices,” SWP Executive Director Carl Lindquist said. “We’re getting public input and we’ll share that with the city commission and eventually the city will make a decision.”

Using a $58,000 coastal zone management grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the city and the SWP have held a public meetings to discuss the future of the area.

Discussions have revolved around relocating Lakeshore Boulevard west onto the former Cliffs Dow property the city now owns, and removing or revamping the wall of rock rip-rap currently protecting the shoreline from waves and erosion.

Grant funds were also used to commission five conceptual designs for the area, which will be presented Wednesday.

“They cover everything from very little observable change to the dramatic redesign and (restoration of) some natural beaches, yet having to maintain some engineered shoreline,” Lindquist said.

Lindquist said cost estimates for the five plans very greatly and that money will factor into any recommendations made to the city commission.

Last month, the commission approved acceptance a second coastal zone management grant, this one for of $34,500, which requires a city match of $34,500 worth of in-kind contributions.

The second phase will involve the development of a final engineering plan based on the decided-upon design.

This phase, which is estimated to extend through March 2014 according to the grant application, will lead to project implementation. The future project would be funded from the city’s budget and is preliminarily estimated at $1.2 million.

“The goal of (Wednesday’s) meeting is to educate the public on the pros and cons of every alternative and then to continue to gather feedback over the next couple of months,” said Dennis Stachewicz, Marquette’s director of planning and community development.

If the city commission approves one of the options and engineering work begins soon, Stachewicz said actual work could start in 2014.

Lindquist said the goal is to protect the shoreline from erosion while providing for some level of public access.

“Most of these scenarios – I believe all of them – still involve some level of what we call armoring the shoreline,” he said. “All of them provide increased public access, better viewing.”

The five plans range in scope from simply removing the existing rock barrier to the creation of six rubble mounds or piers running perpendicular to the shoreline.

Other options include restoration of the current barrier and inclusion of a public park space; the creation of a large sand beach, coupled with a handful of near-shore breakwaters; and the crafting of a handful of small beach areas, along with the restoration of portions of the current barrier.

Most of the plans include the relocation of Lakeshore Boulevard.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.