The Ore Dock BotEco Center

Our goal is to create a special place on Marquette's waterfront that achieves a sustainable balance of educational, recreational and commercial uses.

1) Ecological Education and Research Facilities
2) Year-round Indoor Botanical Gardens
3) Historical Preservation and Education
4) Community Spaces

As of March 2015 these points are helpful in day-to-day conversations, meetings and presentations:

  • Ownership timeline per City Planner Dave Stensaas: The Ore Dock has been owned by the City of Marquette since 2002 and is under a 25 year lease agreement with the State of Michigan, extending to 2023 with another 25 year extension period, taking it to 2048. gkd’s question: If the 25-year agreement began in 2002, wouldn’t the lease be through 2027 and if so an additional 25 years would take it out to 2052? So when you see something that doesn’t add up, don’t assume it has all been checked out — speak up.
  • Uses allowed are unclear and will have to be worked out with the City, the DEQ, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Per City Planner Dave Stensaas: “However, the lease allows the Ore Dock to only be used for marina purposes, but city officials say what that means is not specified.” Senator Casperson encouraged the BotEco Board to get specifics from the DEQ, including what laws apply.
  • Safety is a concern of both the City and of GEI (in structural analysis).  Assure people that our design will take into account the following: safety, constructibility, preservation, cost, aesthetics, the environment, and the ability to operate and maintain the facility. Also, make the most of any opportunity to remind people that the #1 reason we rally around this option is because it will help make our wonderful community be an even better place to live! Anything you want to add to that list?
  • Last year, a City-financed structural study found the Ore Dock is in good condition. It was a good start; additional assessment will be needed, even if the City proceeds with only a promenade.
  • Mayor Coyne brought up that the Marquette docks are unique due to public accessibility. I’ve heard Fred Stonehouse also tout the same point about the uniqueness. Currently, however, public accessibility is a misnomer since neither dock is accessible to public entry and use, but only for photo ops from shore.  The dock in Ashland, Wisconsin was also easily viewed, so the uniqueness may be a bit overstated, though I don’t know much about the other docks around the Great Lakes.
  • Perhaps on option is to leave part of the dock as it is, especially since it is has so much more architectural character than, e.g., the utilitarian ore conveyor in Escanaba.
  • Mr. Stonehouse’s selling point of a public promenade: “to allow folks to be able to get out and enjoy our lakefront from a uniquely different perspective”.
  • Per City Planner Stensaas, the City will need to initiate a public planning process. Our board and advocates need to assist in any way acceptable to help that public planning fit and include our vision.
  • Per Mayor Coyne, “The city doesn’t have any money to do anything – it would have to be private development. The future really is in the hands of developers, I think, because it’s going to cost a lot of money to do anything with it, and it’s also going to have to require a lot of negotiating with the Department of Natural Resources, who basically controls what happens there.” Correction– rather than the DNR, the MDEQ Water Division and the Army Corps of Engineers are the agencies under whose jurisdiction this falls. This reminds me that one of my mentors for working with City of Marquette government, etc. advises to aim to be more prepared than they are going into meetings. Regarding the funding, Mike Marsden suggested a method that has been acceptable to the City on other developments — propose that the City set at time period, e.g. 2 years, for the developer to raise a stated amount of money.
  • Selling point from Mr. Stonehouse: “The dock’s about 969 feet long, so we could almost gain over 2,000 foot of waterfront by doing that with the Ore Dock [build a public promenade].”
  • When people ask what our proposed transformation will cost, one way to keep it generic is to list the total square feet of one level and then point out that if development cost were between $X and $Y per square foot, the cost range would be whatever that adds up to, and then point out that if the Center had 2 levels, that would more than double said range due to addition of elevators, water pumps, etc. We can discuss at the next board meeting.