MARQUETTE — The public had a chance to make suggestions as to what they would like to see happen with the former Shiras Steam Plant property, located at 400 E. Hampton St., at the Marquette Board of Light & Power’s work session held on Wednesday.
According to Executive Director Tom Carpenter, the plant, built in 1967, supplied 90% of the power for the city of Marquette for 50 years. All that remains of the plant, and will remain, is a single substation. North American Dismantling, the company that tore the plant down, will soon be planting grass in the bare spots where the plant stood.
Before the plant was built, the BLP acquired the bottomlands from the state and filled the area in with dirt. There are three parcels that make up the land, a total of about 20 acres. The BLP owns one of the parcels and the other two are bottomland agreements with the state of Michigan. All of the parcels come with requirements that are made by the state.
The 15-acre parcel the BLP owns and has a deed that must be used for municipal purposes, which is why it is keeping the substation there, and has to have public rights of ingress and egress.
“No matter what we do down there, we will always keep that because the state gave up bottomlands for our use, so we have to give something back,” Carpenter said about the public rights.
The second parcel had a plant chimney on it before it was torn down. The BLP does not have a deed to this parcel, but it does have a bottomlands agreement that also requires the property be used for municipal purposes and to have public rights of ingress and egress.
“We’re going to have to do something with this agreement to amend it regardless of what we ever do down there because we’re no longer using that for our municipal use,” Carpenter stated.
The third parcel the BLP used also does not have a deed to, but has a bottomlands agreement for. According to Carpenter, the BLP has a few different options for the two parcels they do not have deeds to. They could leave them under some sort of bottomlands agreement that would have to be amended, the land could potentially get reverted back to the state, or the BLP could purchase them and combine them with the parcel they have a deed to and rewrite an agreement and deed.
When asked if the BLP is actively working on purchasing the remainder of the properties, Carpenter responded that it is actively pursuing its options with the state, but mentioned that there is no interest in reverting the land back to the state.
Before opening up the conversation to public comment, Carpenter noted, “We don’t do anything outside of providing electricity to the town. We’re not builders, we’re not developers.”
He went on to say, “What we have done over the years is allow groups and parties to have access to our lands for things like bike trails, disc golf course, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, all these different things. So that could be a potential of something that could happen down at the site.”
Several city residents made suggestions for the land such as turning it into parking for those visiting the beach, green space with picnic tables and benches, a dog park, a boat launch for small boats, and constructing a pier or dock for the public to walk out on.
The general consensus was that the land should be used as green space.
“It’s going to be a process before we really know the best ways to utilize that property for the good of the community,” BLP Chairman John Prince said, wrapping up the meeting. “Good ideas, good questions, good thoughts. It may not all happen, it might take years, but it’s going to be better.”
Taylor Johnson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is email@example.com.