2009-05-30 / Top News

Michilimackinac, Marquette Statue Hit Centennial Mark

By Karen Gould

The bronze Father Jacques Marquette statue in Marquette Memorial Park on Mackinac Island is 100 years old. The statue is scheduled to be refurbished this June as a donation by Giorgio Gikas of Venus Bronze Works of Detroit. The fieldstone foundation at the base of the statue already has been refurbished with a grant from the Michigan Knights of Columbus. Sculptor Gaetano Trentanove created the piece in 1909. It is one of three Father Marquette statues he sculpted during his career, including a second bronze statue for the City of Marquette and a marble statue for the State of Wisconsin, which is permanently on display in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC. The bronze Father Jacques Marquette statue in Marquette Memorial Park on Mackinac Island is 100 years old. The statue is scheduled to be refurbished this June as a donation by Giorgio Gikas of Venus Bronze Works of Detroit. The fieldstone foundation at the base of the statue already has been refurbished with a grant from the Michigan Knights of Columbus. Sculptor Gaetano Trentanove created the piece in 1909. It is one of three Father Marquette statues he sculpted during his career, including a second bronze statue for the City of Marquette and a marble statue for the State of Wisconsin, which is permanently on display in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Both the Father Marquette memorial statue on Mackinac Island and Michilimackinac State Park in Mackinaw City are 100 years old this year and Mackinac State Historic Parks will be celebrating with dedications, refurbishing work, and new publications. Park crews have been busy with spring projects, including efforts to protect the Island's natural habitat by cutting down about 200 invasive or diseased trees.

Park commissioners, meeting Friday, May 22, in Mackinaw City, also raised some permit fees, renewed cottage leases, and continued its discussion of insurance coverage on cottages lots the commission leases.

Tree Removal Tree projects on the Island have kept park crews busy this spring and include eliminating about 100 Norway maples. Not native to the Island, the aggressive species threatens the ecology of the woods and park property along the bluffs.

The trees were cut down on Turkey Hill behind the fort service buildings and on the East Bluff, said Director Phil Porter. As part of an experiment to kill and stop the generation of new trees, 15 maples along North Bike Trail were girdled by Jeff Dykehouse, natural history curator. A wrap is applied that slowly strangles the tree and stops it from propagation.

"We're going to watch that," said Mr. Porter. "If that's an effective method, it would allow us to take out a lot more Norway maples than cutting them down, cutting them up, and getting them out of the woods, which is very time consuming."

Crews began removing Norway maples from state park land in the fall of 2006. The park comprises more than 80% of the land on the Island.

About 100 beech trees also were removed from the Island along major roads and trails. The trees were suffering from beech bark disease, which is carried by insects. Beech trees can be dangerous when they die, said Mr. Porter, as large branches fall off with little or no warning.

Centennial Celebrations

The commission is recognizing 100 years of the bronze statue of Father Jacques Marquette in Marquette Park across from the marina. The marker will be refurbished by Giorgio Gikas of Venus Bronze Works of Detroit.

In June, Mr. Gikas will restore and clean the statue as a donation to the park. Refurbishing work already is complete on the fieldstone foundation, funded with a gift from the Michigan Knights of Columbus.

The park, below Fort Mackinac, was once used as a vegetable garden by fort soldiers. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission converted the land to a memorial park honoring Father Jacques Marquette, an explorer and Jesuit missionary.

Also this year, the commission will celebrate the 100-year history of Michilimackinac State Park. The park is the second oldest in Michigan, following the establishment of Mackinac Island State Park in 1895. A new marker on the Mackinaw City site will be dedicated in July, and a vignette will be available. Written by Lynn Evans, curator of archaeology, it is entitled "Picnics and Palisades: A Centennial History of Michilimackinac State Park." Also this year, the park is reprinting the souvenir book "Colonial Michilimackinac," and "Attack at Michilimackinac," which have sold about 40,000 copies since first published in 1971.

Parks Visitors

Tour group bookings at Mackinac State Historic Parks have dropped 8% from last year, said Mr. Porter. Since May 10, about 80,000 adult motor coach and student group travelers have booked a trip to the Island.

A total of 1,922 visitors from Emmet, Cheboygan, and Mackinac counties took advantage of the 50¢ entrance charge to park facilities during the resident appreciation weekend May 9 and May 10, said Mr. Porter.

So far this year, 17 weddings are scheduled to be held at park sites. On the Island, eight will be in the Somewhere in Time gazebo and five at Mission Church. In Mackinaw City, three will be at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse and one at Colonial Michilimackinac.

Permit Fee Increases

Commissioners approved a $100 fee increase to $250 for those using the British Landing boat dock. The fee is waived for the City of Mackinac Island, the Department of Public Works, and contractors working with the city. The dock offers deep water mooring for unloading of construction materials and vehicles. The commission issues between 25 and 50 permits a year, estimated Mr. Porter.

Commissioner Dennis Cawthorne said he thought the fees are still too low.

Temporary motor vehicle permit fees were increased for automobiles, vans, and pickup trucks using park roads on Mackinac Island, from $100 to $150. Fees for panel trucks, stake trucks, five-yard dump trucks, backhoes, excavators, bucket trucks, and forklifts will increase from $150 to $200.

The fee for other vehicles will increase from $200 to $300, including a bulldozer, grader, front end loader, crane, 10-yard dump truck, cement trucks, single bottom tractor-trailer, and dumpster truck. A permit for a modular home unit with towing vehicle and a propane tanker truck now will cost $400, up from $300.

The fees help to pay for repairs to the roads, which are damaged by motor vehicle use. Continual deterioration of the roads, said Mr. Porter, is an ongoing expense for the commission.

"The Island roads are not engineered or constructed to withstand the weight of motor vehicles," said Mr. Porter. "They are basically bike paths."

Business Licenses

Commissioners approved licensing businesses that operate on state park land. The board considers the required licenses annually and made no changes in the number of licenses from last year. The licenses approved by the commission were for livery, dray, saddle horses, carriages, and horse-drawn taxis and buses. Receiving licenses were Arrowhead Carriages, Chambers Riding Sables, Gough Brodeur Stables, Gough Taxi and Livery, Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island Carriage Tours, Mackinac Island Service Company, Mission Point Resort, and Star Freight of Mackinac.

Leases and Permits

The Mackinac Island State Park Commission requires lessees of cottage land to repair and rebuild the structures on the land if they are damaged by a fire or other situation. If users fail to rebuild within 18 months, the lease requires insurance proceeds for the loss of the cottage and its contents to be turned over to the commission.

Cottages along the East and West bluffs, except in the Annex, and across from the marina are privately owned, but the land on which they are built belongs to the state and is leased by the commission to the cottage owners.

Receiving the proceeds from the loss of the structure would allow the commission to clean up the property or rebuild the cottage. It has never been the intention of the commission, said Mr. Porter, to use the proceeds from the loss of the contents of the cottages, and commissioners agreed to remove that stipulation from lease language on new, renewal, and transfer leases.

Commissioners agreed the lease language also requires further investigation to protect it from loss if a building is destroyed. Commission Chairman Frank Kelley asked that staff investigate adding language that would require lessees to insure the cottages for the amount it would cost to replace them, or to establish a minimum replacement amount. Commissioner Richard Manoogian suggested the staff reevaluate the commission's collateral rights, since its collateral rights claim could make it nearly impossible for someone to get a mortgage.

A lease transfer request for the new Island cable provider, Michigan Cable Partners, from Charter Communications was approved by commissioners. The company uses a small parcel of land near Surrey Hill for its satellites.

Alderman Jason St. Onge, who represented the city at the commission meeting, said the new provider had attended a May council meeting and said upgrades to the system are planned in the fall.

A cottage lease renewal and transfer was approved for "Brigadoon." The cottage is on Main Street across from the marina. The 20-year lease for $3,057 was approved for transfer from Frederick Stingel and Janet Shumaker Stingel to Janet Shumaker Stingel. The cost of the lease is adjusted annually based on the percentage change in the consumer price index.

Under the old structure, those leasing cottages paid $50 annually.

"We finally have worked our way through so that every lease will be converted to the new system by the end of this year," said Mr. Cawthorne.

A seasonal lease was approved for $5,924 with Mike Young, a West Bluff cottager from Frankenmuth, for use of the east side Visitors Center dock.

A lease with the City of Mackinac Island for a radio tower was approved. In the future, the city would like the fee waived, said Mr. St. Onge.

"The city has in the past asked that the $75 lease on the Fort Holmes tower be waived in the spirit that we waive the fire protection money we used to collect," said Mr. St. Onge after the vote was taken. "The reason being is that radio tower allows us to talk on our fire and EMS radios while we are in the state park. We kind of grimace when we have to pay money to be able to respond in your district."

Mr. Porter asked that the city send a letter to the commission when the lease comes up for renewal.

A two-year, $58 use permit was granted to the Village of Mackinaw City for a five-foot by 50-foot easement to construct a sidewalk on North Huron Avenue in the village for streetscape improvements that would include erecting an ironworkers memorial monument. Construction would begin this month, said Mr. Porter, and the project would improve the aesthetics of the area.

Rentals

Commissioners approved renting the Geary House on Market Street and the Steward's Quarters near Fort Mackinac. The Geary House will be rented in June for $2,000 to Karen Blanzy of Sears and in July and August for $5,000 to Francis and Theresa Darr of Cheboygan. The Steward's Quarters will be rented in July for $5,000 to Anne Larson of Freeland and in August for $3,500 to Marcia and Jerry Cohn of Jupiter, Florida.

The total income will be $15,500. Last year, the park rented the Geary House for the entire season for $15,000. Staff were forced to drop rates this year to get renters, said Mr. Porter.

"This income is extremely important as we lose income from other sources," said Mr. Porter referring to the cut in funding from the state. (See related article.)

Airport

The commission will receive $105,000 for costs for the design and engineering of the final phase of the airport rehabilitation project, through an agreement with the state Bureau of Aeronautics. The federal share of the project is $99,750 and the state share is $5,250.

Fire Protection The fire protection agreement with the City of Mackinac Island was approved. Under the old agreement that expired in January, the commission agreed to provide the city with a pumper truck, diesel fuel, state park land for the Number Two fire hall for $1 a year lease, and to allow park employees to join the Island fire department. In return, the city provides fire protection for park land and structures.

Under the new five-year agreement, the commission does not have to provide a pumper truck, which is no longer needed by the city fire department.

Horsemen's Association

Residents Steve Rilenge and Maryanke Alexander of the Mackinac Island Horsemen's Association told commissioners the organization continues with its plan for a community horse stable and riding ring off British Landing Road, across from Wawashkamo golf links. The Horsemen's Association has a 20-year lease for the three-acre parcel with the commission. To help raise interest and funding for the project, the group is planning a Festival of the Horse July 23 through 25.

Publications

Since 1962, the park has published the "Mackinac Island Visitor's Guide," said Mr. Porter, and since then, 3.3 million copies of the book have been distributed. About 100,000 guides are being reprinted this year, with the Island's three ferry companies purchasing 85,000 copies for resale.

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