The Department of Environmental Quality has been touring the Upper Peninsula this week visiting many sites previously classified as brownfields as well as their new office in Marquette. The D.E.Q. toured Founders Landing in Marquette early Friday as part of their week-long trip. Not too long ago the area was an eyesore and contaminated space.
In 2001, the city purchased 25 acres of land along the lake. The area was previously used to store various chemicals in large tanks, contaminating the land with petroleum, kerosene, gasoline and caustic soda. Shortly after the land was purchased, planning for how to transform the area began.
"The D.E.Q. provided some resources for place-based initiative to clean up this lakefrontâ?? said Dan Wyant, D.E.Q. Director. â??It was a contaminated property, a brownfield, and now it has significant reuse."
With $1.2 million in cleanup from a Waterfront Development Grant and $1.25 million in new development, the area has become a gathering place for the city of Marquette.
"This area has been transformed visually and aestheticallyâ?? said Steve Hamilton, D.E.Q. Environmental Analyst. â??This area is walkable now, before it was brush as tall as a person. You had to fight your way through it and there would be oil residue on the surface. It was just an area people sought to avoid."
"To take remediation and turn it into redevelopment here is a classic example for the departmentâ?? said Wyant. â??This will be a model for us to use in other parts of the state."
Since cleanup, the waterfront has added many features for the community to enjoy.
"It is a wonderful economic development opportunity for the cityâ?? said Harrington. â??It is a draw for tourists because it is bike-able and walkable with a beautiful boardwalk access to the water and makes Marquette, I think, a more attractive place."
The group then held an open house at the new Department of Environmental Quality office location. Moving from Gwinn to Marquette has made the D.E.Q. more cost efficient and centrally located in the Upper Peninsula.
"It adds to the vibrancy of our city and certainly that is a good thing for everybody" said Robert Niemi, Mayor of Marquette.
Future plans for the site include the addition of more condominiums, retail and office space. The D.E.Q. is confident that this project will be an example for others to follow in Michigan.