We’ve all heard the talking heads on television referring to this year’s election as “the most important election ever.” Usually they are referring to the historic presidential election, the filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate or even the fight for control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In addition to these important elections, however, voters in the city of Marquette will have another crucial decision to make when they head to the polls on Nov. 4: whether to allow a millage increase to build and maintain a 48-mile recreational trail known as the “Iron Ore Heritage Trail.”
The proposal, one of four on the ballot, is entitled the “Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority for funding of Iron Ore Heritage Trail construction, management and maintenance.” The ballot item allows the city to levy up to .2 mills for a period of six years. In layman’s terms, this means that for every $1,000 you already pay in property tax, you will see an increase of only 20 cents.
To put this in perspective, it would raise taxes $3-$10 a year for most Marquette homeowners. For the cost of an extra value meal at McDonalds, we have a chance to leave a legacy behind that will forever improve Marquette County.
The paved trail would run 48 miles from Chocolay Township, through Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming before turning south and heading toward Republic. The trail will be open to walking, biking, inline skating, ATV riding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and horseback riding.
In the past 10 years Marquette has been named one of the top 10 small cities to live in by USA Today, the seventh best city to “Live and Ride” in by Mountain Biking Magazine, seventh best city to live in by The Outdoor Times and one of the top five biking tourism locations by Biking Magazine.
Every one of these rankings cited Marquette’s vast recreational trail system as a highlight of the city. The addition of a trail system running west of Marquette to Republic will add to what is already seen as a bright spot for the area.
The trail system will also bring tourism dollars into Marquette County. With an increase of bikers, runners and walkers, businesses will spring up along the trail to offer lunches, beverages and trail side repairs for bikers.
In addition to the increased benefit to the economy by bringing in tourism, the trail will also increase property values for homes in neighborhoods it passes through. A recent study by the National Realtors Association found that 36 percent of people place proximity to biking and walking trails as a major factor into deciding where to live.
Finally the trail will help to preserve the local iron mine history. It is planned to pass through more than five old mining areas and other historical sites. The trail will highlight these historical locations with interpretive signs. The Iron Ore Heritage Authority’s Web site says the future goal of the trail will to have it be a place where local schools can take field trips to learn about iron ore history.
When you go into the voting booth on Nov. 4, flip the ballot over and vote “YES” on the proposal to fund the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.