Donation boosts effort to buy Quincy smelter site

CALUMET – A recent $100,000 donation has kicked off fundraising efforts to acquire the $335,000 needed to buy the Quincy Smelting Works property.

The Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission signed an agreement in October with the Franklin Township Board to purchase the site.

During his report to the advisory commission at its regular meeting Tuesday, KNHP Executive Director Scott See said although the $100,000 from an anonymous donor will require an equal match in further donations, it certainly goes a long way toward raising funds to buy the smelter site.

“It’s a tremendous boost,” See said of the donation.

The donation has triggered a focused capital campaign to get funds for the purchase of the site, See said.

The same anonymous donor gave another $100,000 for non-operational needs for the 2014 fiscal year, bringing that person’s total donations to the advisory commission to $500,000.

“We owe this donor a lot of thanks in supporting our operation,” See said.

He said a $2,000 down payment was made for the site when the agreement was signed with Franklin Township. The agreement states the full amount must be paid by Sept. 30, 2015. Included in the agreement is the forgiveness of $14,000 in loans the advisory commission gave to the township.

See said the National Park Service has been considering moving the Isle Royale National Park headquarters from Houghton to the smelter site. If that is approved, though, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will first have to remove the site from the Torch Lake Superfund list, which could occur this fall.

Also in his report, See told commission members the National Park Service has accepted the commission’s offer of funding for some NPS functions at the park, including a greater presence at the Calumet Visitor Center, support for the Project SISU youth program and expanded interpretive programs for the summer. In addition, the 19 heritage site partners have signed new five-year agreements, and two new sites have applied for inclusion.

The commission also approved 18 applications to the Heritage Grant Program, for a total of $100,000.