Tourist Park beach opens

MARQUETTE – For the first time in a decade, the beach at Marquette’s Tourist Park is open for swimming.

A number of local officials were on hand Tuesday to welcome the public back to the beach, which was washed away in 2003. At that time, the Dead River Flood took out the Marquette Board of Light and Power’s hydroelectric dam, and the entire Tourist Park Basin drained downstream.

“We’re very proud of what has happened with the development here,” Marquette Mayor Johnny DePetro said Tuesday, prior to a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We want to thank everybody that was involved, all the contractors, all the government agencies.

“We’re very happy that we got this accomplished.”

Following the ceremony, lifeguards took their posts on the beach.

City commissioners and city staff were at the event, as were representatives from the BLP, which recently completed major construction work related to the restoration of the basin and dam.

“It’s been a long time coming, and we’ve got a beautiful hydroelectric dam, that will be producing energy for many, many years to come,” BLP Executive Director Paul Kitti said. “We’ve got a beautiful lake behind us. We’ve got trails.”

Kirby Juntila, who retired as BLP director at the end of 2012, was also at the park to share in the moment.

After the BLP dam was completed last year, the water level in the basin was slowly brought up, ultimately creating a 100-acre lake.

The Tourist Park project, a $4.8-million undertaking, has included a number of components of public interest, including the beach restoration and the creation of a fishing platform. A six-year fish-stocking program entered its second year this spring.

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