Possible overlook planned

ISHPEMING – Preserving and expanding the city of Ishpeming’s growing network of biking, walking and multi-use recreation trails was among the top priorities expressed by members of the Ishpeming Parks and Recreation Committee at its meeting and public hearing Wednesday night regarding the first draft of the city’s new five-year recreation plan.

No members of the public were present to offer input, which may have been due partly to the ambitious timeline the city must meet in submitting the plan to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The city’s previous five-year recreation plan expired at the end of 2013 and the city must have a new plan submitted to the DNR by March 1 in order to be eligible for parks and recreation grants and other funds this year.

However, the city also must show that they provided ample opportunities for public input on the plan, and City Manager Mark Slown said the city “absolutely” will provide such opportunities going forward. Slown said the draft of the new plan as well as a public input questionnaire will be available to the public from a variety of places, including Ishpeming City Hall, the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library and online at the city’s website beginning Monday. Additionally, a joint meeting of the Parks and Rec Committee and the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday in the second floor conference room at city hall.

“The bike trails and the hiking trails are the thing I think that the most people are excited about, interested in,” Slown said, but there was also a lot of discussion about an overlook on the bluff that is home to the city’s water tower.

“There was I would say tangible excitement in the members of the Park and Rec committee about the idea of having overlooks available more readily accessible,” Slown said. “I’m a personal fan of the idea of the overlook, and not just one, maybe we will actually be able to create a couple of them, because everybody at the Park and Rec was excited by how scenic these overlook views are, because apparently from the water tower site you can see all the way to the city of Negaunee and all the way out to west Ishpeming and all of the wooded hillsides and everything.”

Practical considerations of developing an overlook on the site include potentially fencing off the water tower itself so that it wouldn’t be tampered with, and making sure that the city’s beloved bike trails aren’t detrimentally affected by making the overlook site more widely accessible.

“If we do put in an overlook it will not be displacing any of the bike trails,” Slown said. “That’s not the plan.”

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.