PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — Another milestone on the road to the development of Pere Marquette Conservation Park was reached on Tuesday when officials signed a purchase agreement for the last of five land parcels the township is buying from Dow Chemical Company for the park’s development.
Township Supervisor Jerry Bleau and Rachelle Enbody, township clerk, were authorized by P.M.’s board of trustees to sign the agreement for Parcel 5 last week.
On Tuesday, Bleau and Enbody put pen to paper, finalizing the township’s portion of the process at Pere Marquette Townhip Hall.
They also handed over a check for $57,393.49 to a lawyer representing Dow for the remaining costs on the parcel.
Dow is donating more than half the value of the parcel to the township, just as it did with the first four parcels last year. Their contribution on Parcel 5 is about $57,000, according to Enbody.
Once the paperwork was signed, Bleau said it felt good.
“It’s surreal — signing that document was the closure of a long process,” Bleau said. “I couldn’t be prouder to sit in this seat and represent the people of the community.
“We’re excited now to move on to the next process. It’s an honor and a blessing.”
The paperwork will make its way to Dow for final approval by Sept. 24.
Once that’s done, Bleau said the hope is to get to work as soon as possible with development on the parcel, which is northwest of the north bridge on P.M. Highway, including a $1.8 million river access and boat launch project.
Bleau said the township has applied for a $500,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for that project. If it gets that, the township will have received more than $660,000 in grants, which, when combined with about $500,000 in private donations, and the $250,000, will bring the total for the river access work within arm’s reach of the amount needed to complete the boat launch.
“We are very, very close,” Bleau said. “If we receive this, we’ll go after some smaller grants to fill in the gaps … and then see where we’re at. I’m hopeful that we’ll know by early spring when we can start construction, or if we need to alter the plan at all.”
The entire conservation park project will cost about $12 million, all told, and will include amenities such as trails, warming shelters, and more on the 300-plus acres of former Dow land.
Eventually, Bleau said the goal is to combine Parcel 5 with the first four parcels, which the township closed on in 2020.