ST. IGNACE, Mich. (WJMN) – Thanks to the success of a crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and city of St. Ignace Downtown Development Authority (DDA) announced Thursday the anticipated completion of the Connors Park Huron Waterfront Boardwalk Project in St. Ignace.

The campaign is offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. If the crowdfunding goal of $40,000 is reached by March 17, MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program will provide matching funds.

The following description of the project was included in Thursday’s release:

“This boardwalk offers residents and visitors a hub for recreational and social activities, as well as stunning views of one of our beautiful Great Lakes, Lake Huron,” said MEDC Executive Vice President of Economic Development Incentives Michele Wildman. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for the improvement of the boardwalk through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

Following the shores of Lake Huron, the Huron Waterfront Boardwalk offers unparalleled views of the St. Ignace Harbor, Mackinac Island, and the Straits of Mackinac. A centerpiece of the St Ignace downtown since 1984, it extends 6,000 feet through the downtown, creating walking routes to connect the St. Ignace waterfront, businesses, parks, and cultural sites.

The Connors Park Huron Waterfront Boardwalk Project started in 2020 through generous donations from the St. Ignace Community Foundation and Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The project’s scope is to remove the rotten boardwalk in the park and at the park entrance, and to remove the deteriorated elevated scenic overlook. The boardwalk in the park was removed in 2020 and 2021 and replaced with beautiful brick pavers.

This campaign will fund the completion of the Connors Park Huron Waterfront Boardwalk Improvement Project by removing the deteriorated elevated scenic overlook and replacing it with a wood deck furnished with benches. This project will also replace the rotten boardwalk that enters the park on the north end, completing the entirety of the revived boardwalk at the park and creating a welcoming public space for all to enjoy.

“The Public Spaces Community Places Matching Grant Program makes projects like ours possible. Small communities have fewer financial resources which makes it very difficult to get projects out of the planning stage and into the development stage,” said Scott Marshall, City of St. Ignace Downtown Development Director. “The PSCP Grant Program thru the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has been very successful for our community.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at https://patronicity.com/puremichigan.

“The Michigan Municipal League is a firm believer in the importance of building community wealth,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the League. “This boardwalk is going to create a positive and lasting impact on the St. Ignace community for generations to come. This is really what community wealth building is all about.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of Dec. 19, 2022, MEDC has provided more than $10.9 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 336 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with $12.7 million raised from 59,861 individual donors. Communities have a 97 percent success rate in achieving their goals and earning matching funds.