Commission grants license for pavilion

MARQUETTE – The Marquette City Commission on Monday paved the way for the Noquemanon Trail Network to build a pavilion on a parcel of city-owned land in the Heartwood Forestland property.

The commission voted 6-1, with Commissioner Sara Cambensy casting the no vote, for the city to sign and grant a license for the NTN to build a pavilion on Heartwood property adjacent to the McClellan Avenue/M-553 public right-of-way.

The NTN’s Heartwood or “South Trail” system consists of 40 miles of singletrack trails. Wendy Frye, a member of the NTN board, said about $30,000 has been raised in cash and in-kind donations for the open-air pavilion, including a donated roof and volunteer labor. An Eagle Scout project also has provided six tables for the project.

Frye estimated the cost of the structure at $15,000, with annual maintenance costs – for example, a portable toilet – would cost about $100 a month.

The structure will have several uses.

“The pavilion is meant to be a community gathering place,” Frye said.

She said users of the public trailhead pavilion will be able to change clothes at the facility, which also will come in handy for public events such as the Twin Peaks Trail Run.

“There’s always a need for a central hosting area,” Frye said.

Frye said she hoped ground will be broken in the spring for the pavilion.

Under the license agreement, NTN will build and maintain the pavilion and be responsible for all fees and expenses related to the construction, including zoning permits, maintenance and snow removal from the pavilion and parking area.

Commissioner Don Ryan said the NTN at been looking to buy land for the structure, but the license gives it an alternative to go ahead with its pavilion plan.

“This way they will not have to buy any property,” Ryan said.

City planner Dave Stensaas said the Marquette City Planning Commission looked at the plan and agreed to it, although a conditional-use permit is needed. The property on which the pavilion will be located is zoned residential.

Cambensy expressed concern over what she considered to be unresolved issues with the project, including the fact a 55-mph road is located next to the proposed pavilion site and whether items such as bathrooms would be needed.

“I mean, who pays for that?” she asked. “What is the expectation?”

Cambensy said she favors the pavilion, but in the absence of more information voted against the motion to grant the license.

Ryan, who said negotiations for the pavilion have been lengthy, noted the city has no obligation for water and sewer amenities. Instead, the NTN would bear that responsibility.

“If that’s something they want down the road, that’s something they’ll have to contribute to the process,” he said.

City Manager Bill Vajda said the staff has no concerns about the pavilion project, which carries no long-term costs for the city. He said granting a license allows the NTN to accommodate the project, which has been evaluated by the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The site also will continue to be used for recreational purposes.

“This agreement really doesn’t change that,” Vajda said. “This agreement allows them to build a chalet on city property.”

Daniel Mead, an Ishpeming attorney involved in the pavilion project, said if the proper requirements are met, a conditional-use permit should be granted, although the city commission would have to give final approval.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.