Former Cliffs Dow site offers great opportunities

The city of Marquette is blessed with some wonderful stretches of Lake Superior shoreline, and has taken care in making sure the property is put to wise uses.

This includes retaining ownership and either leaving or restoring some parcels close to their natural states, such as the city’s beaches and Mattson Lower Harbor park.

Other areas have seen the property sold and private residential and commercial projects carried out, such as at Founder’s Landing.

This blending of ownership and uses has benefitted the city in two ways: There are nice parks and beaches for residents and visitors to enjoy and increased tax revenues from private development.

The next challenge for city officials very well could be the former Cliffs Dow site, which the city commission heard an update on at this week’s meeting.

The best news about the former industrial site – where charcoal and other wood derivatives were produced for many decades in the 1900s – is that contamination levels on the tract are dropping.

Remediation efforts have taken place at various sites on the 77 acres over the years since it was acquired by the city in 1997, and monitoring wells show those efforts may be paying off.

According to the law firm that is serving as counsel for the city in regard to the property, if the city can get the state to sign off on the site not being a danger to the environment or human health it would be in a better position to be marketed.

A representative of the firm told the commission that it would probably be best to break it into separate parcels for sale.

What’s being considered is breaking off an 11-acre site on the south end and a 14-acre site on the north end of the property, with more study being needed on the central portion.

Commissioners spoke favorably about the progress that’s being made on the property, and we also believe there are great possibilities for reuse of the land.

The fact that the city is looking seriously at rerouting Lakeshore Boulevard away from Lake Superior through a portion of the tract makes it an even more appropriate time to look at the mixed uses that are possible.