The City of Negaunee has applied for a $3.683 million dollar grant with U.S. Economic Development Administration for the construction of a campground and ORV/snowmobile trailhead.
A new program offered under the American Rescue Plan Act provides opportunities for communities like Negaunee to apply for grants under the Competitive Outdoor Recreation Tourism Grant program. A grant to help communities and regions devise and implement sustainable economic recovery strategies through a variety of non-construction and construction projects to respond to damage to the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sectors from the coronavirus pandemic and to promote the economic resilience of regions dependent on those industries.
“As stated during the dedication of the Jim Thomas Pavilion last year. Negaunee will begin to mark a new and aggressive era of investment in the public parks. Negaunee stands at the crossroads of all modes of recreation; from hiking to biking, snowmobiling and ORVing”, City Manager Nate Heffron said.
The grant is broken into two components that complement each other; the first, being the campground and the other being a snowmobile/ORV trailhead.
The campground will be located off of County Road 480, within the city limits of Negaunee. It will sit on roughly 12.1 acres of land and is designed to host 71-sites that will have both electrical and water hook ups. Additionally, a campground office, restrooms, showers, and sewer dump station will be constructed.
“The campground location will be right off the Iron Ore Heritage Trail and Michigan DNR snowmobile route #8. These access nodes make it a great location for tourists to be accommodated for an array of trail uses,” Heffron said.
According to Mona Lang, Negaunee’s DDA Consultant, “Both the campground and trailhead will have a significant economic impact on Negaunee and the surrounding area.”
An economic impact study was performed by the Lake Superior Community Partnership (LSCP) in preparation for the grant. The study finds that a total of 58.65 jobs is expected to be associated with the opening and development of a campground with a 100% capacity from May to October.
The study also finds that the campground could realize gross sales of $653,200 a year, at 100% capacity, for 71 modern campsites, at a rate of $50 per night. Even at 50% capacity the campground could gross $326,600 per year.
Once the campground is constructed, funds for the campground will be used to help operate and reinvest in the facility. It is estimated that campground will costs $50,000 to $60,000 a year to operate.
The trailhead will be located off of Rail Street adjacent to the Negaunee Ice Arena on approximately 4.7 acres. It will be constructed similar to Michigan DNR snowmobile and ORV trailheads. The site will include a primitive restroom, a lighted parking-lot, a picnic area, and some protection zones for historic foundations and cultural sites. The trailhead in all can host 25 or more parking sites for trucks and trailers.
“We hope to make Negaunee the launching point for snowmobiles and ORV’s on the west end of Marquette County. This site is close to downtown and can offer many conveniences to trail users”, Heffron said.
This endeavor is made possible because of the strong relationship the city has fostered with the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority (IOHRA). The two parcels where both the campground and trailhead would be located are owned by the IOHRA. Recently both entities have signed a 99-year lease on these lands,
“We are happy to be working with the city, we believe it will bring in more users, provide amenities for existing users, and provide additional awareness of the trail system,” Carol Fulsher, Administrator of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail said.
If successful in obtaining the grant the city will have to invest 20% of the total cost of the project which equals $920,800. The city hopes to begin construction in 2023.
Questions concerning this release may be directed to the attention of the City Manager, Nate Heffron at (906) 475-7700 ext. 11.