Heritage Trail Millage Passes

Many Marquette County residents appear to have changed their minds about the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.

The last time a millage to help pay for the trail system appeared at the ballot box, it failed.

But this time, it got the OK.

Carol Fulsher of the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority says they’ve been at it for years now with meager resources.

They’re grateful residents have decided to give them some more money to get the 48-mile paved, non-motorized trail built.

The measure is 0.2 mills per year for 6 years.

That money should be enough to obtain a huge MDOT grant.

Recreation Authority vice-chair Don Britton says it’s a $1.2 million grant where any organization that gets it would need to supply a 20% to 25% local match.

This result at the polls is a lot different from what happened the last time the issue came up in November 2008.

Back then, 10 municipalities had the millage request up for a vote.

To pass, the millage had to be approved by all 10 places.

However, Ely and Humboldt Township voters said no, and the measure went down to defeat.

Neither of those townships had the millage on the ballot this time.

Fulsher says the Recreation Authority has done a lot of community outreach in the last year and a half to show people the existing portions of the trail and what will be done from here.

She thinks the outreach efforts are what made the difference.

Next up — extending the trail system from Negaunee to Marquette.

Recreation Authority chair Jim Thomas is expecting that to happen within 2 years, possibly as soon as next summer.

The trail will eventually connect Republic with Harvey, and if everything happens on schedule, it will be finished in 2016.