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MARQUETTE– A new Brownfield Flip video tells the story of the Marquette lakefront’s successful transition from a contaminated, industrial transportation hub to a public greenspace that invites people to walk or bike along a sparkling shoreline. It can be accessed at YouTube.com/MichiganEGLE.
The video features developer Barry Polzin and City Manager Mike Angeli, who grew up in Marquette when no one went to the industrial lakefront near downtown. Back then, ore docks, huge fuel tanks and coal piles lined the Lake Superior shoreline where Great Lakes freighters met rail cars and contaminated the soil and groundwater.
A Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) grant was used to investigate the 25-acre site after it was abandoned by its railroad company owners. Leaking tanks had resulted in widespread soil contamination. Petroleum floating on the groundwater was seeping into Lake Superior. EGLE spent more than $1 million to remove thousands of tons of contaminated soil, a million gallons of contaminated groundwater and free-floating petroleum, and a half mile of convoluted piping.
Once the environmental risks were addressed, the city bought the property using a $1 million EGLE waterfront redevelopment grant, opening the water’s edge to the public for the first time, and selling the rest for new development. “City leaders made it a goal to leave as much of the shoreline available to the public as possible,” said City Manager Mike Angeli. Now, “everybody who lives here or comes to this area can have access to the water.”
Now known as Founders Landing, a hotel, apartments and condominiums were developed on the formerly industrial property. The city built a boardwalk and bike path along the waterfront. The Lower Harbor Ore Dock, a monument to Marquette’s long shipping history, still guards the old shipping harbor. Marquette remains an active Great Lakes shipping port. But in the face of changing times, the city, thanks to its partnership with EGLE, has turned its hazardous industrial lakefront into a public destination.
The Brownfield Flip video series highlights communities where EGLE helped communities clean up and safely reuse brownfield properties. Each episode features interviews and insights from local officials and developers about partnerships, tactics, and tools for brownfield redevelopment.
EGLE partners with communities to protect public health and the environment and revitalize contaminated property, known as brownfields. Brownfields are vacant or abandoned properties with known or suspected environmental contamination.
More than half of EGLE’s budget each year flows into Michigan communities in the form of grants, loans and other spending that supports local projects that protect public health and the environment, while spurring economic growth and creating jobs for Michigan workers in the process.
Partnerships between EGLE and communities have created more than $4.7 billion in private investment and 24,000 new jobs over the life of the Brownfield Redevelopment Program. Each brownfield grant and loan dollar invested by EGLE in 2018 to protect residents and the environment is expected to return an average of $42 to the state’s economy. When brownfields are redeveloped, property values increase both on the revitalized site and on other nearby properties.
Other videos, available at YouTube.com/MichiganEGLE, feature brownfield redevelopments in Detroit, Traverse City, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Standish, Benton Harbor and Bay City. For more information about the program, go to Michigan.gov/EGLEBrownfields.
To stay up to date on other EGLE news, follow us at Michigan.gov/MIEnvironment.