Copper Country Blight Grants

Grants pay for demo to allow redevelopment

Daily Mining Gazette file photo This former Lakes Paint Supply property in Lake Linden is one of three in the Copper Country to receive money in a new round of state blight grants.

LAKE LINDEN — Copper Country communities make up a third of the nine receiving grants from the Michigan Land Bank Authority to eliminate blight.

County land banks and local units of governments could apply for the Rural Community Demolition Grant, which is designed to help municipalities prepare for future development by removing vacant and abandoned structures.

A $50,000 grant went to the Houghton County Land Bank to tear down blighted property in Lake Linden. The former Lakes Paint Supply site, on the 1300 block of Front Street, has been long vacant. The buildings on the four parcels would be demolished to clear the way for three single-family houses. The new structures would be in keeping with the residential area surrounding it.

“If we can get some single-family units in there to turn it into a nice little neighborhood again, that’s something we’re looking to do,” said Houghton County Treasurer Lisa Mattila.

Ontonagon received a $50,000 grant, which the village will use to tear down a former restaurant and bar. Village Council President Ken Waldrop estimated the building had been vacant for 10 years.

“It means a lot to get the funding,” he said. “Otherwise it just wouldn’t happen.”

He said the village would also look to pursue brownfield mediation funding for the site.

Waldrop hoped to be finished with demolition by the fall. Some of that will depend on availability of construction crews, he said. The village may also want to check out how costs vary by season.

“If we get more bang for our buck waiting for the fall, maybe that’s the option to go with,” he said.

The other Copper Country blight grant recipient was Ontonagon Township, which applied for $20,000 to tear down a cabin on property it purchased earlier this year adjacent to its township park.

The land, which has 215 feet of lakeshore frontage, was owned by Doug Filppula, a longtime teacher in Ontonagon.

“He was highly respected,” said Township Clerk Bill Chabot. “He died shortly before Labor Day. At the last Labor Day parade, his previous students put in a float with his picture on it.”

Plans are to put some picnic tables and benches close to the lake, Chabot said. The location will be wheelchair accessible.

“People will be able to go down and just enjoy the lake,” he said.