Recreation plan approved

HANCOCK – The 2016-20 Hancock recreation plan was approved by the city council during its regular meeting Wednesday, and for John Haeussler one of the more important items in the plan is improvements to the city’s ballfields near the Houghton County Arena.

The recreation plan includes recommendations for a variety of activities, including sports, trail use, camping, beach use, bicycling and walking.

Haeussler, who is chairman of the Hancock Recreation Commission, said the baseball, softball and Little League fields are heavily used, and are important to the community.

“We’re committed to continuing the success we’ve had at the Driving Park,” he said.

The Driving Park is what the area where the ballfields are located. In the early 20th century, it was used for horse harness racing.

The Finlandia University baseball and softball teams use the large baseball and softball fields, and Haeussler said they have been involved with the improvements going on there.

“Part of that has been working with Finlandia to make sure it meets their needs for NCAA Division III play,” he said.

Other users of the fields have also been involved with ongoing work there, as well as Hancock Department of Public Works employees.

Haeussler said there is a great deal of public interest in the ballfields.

“That has a lot of inertia, now,” he said.

Also new in the recreation plan is the replacement of the dock at Hancock Beach, Haeussler said.

The city tried for a grant to repair the dock, but it wasn’t awarded to the city.

The dock was torn down this past autumn, and it should be replaced because it was an important feature at the beach, Haeussler said.

“It’s such an integral part of our community,” he said.

Another new item in the recreation plan is a recommendation to build a bocce ball court, for which Haeussler said there has been much interest expressed by some city residents.

“The city’s totally behind it,” he said of a bocce ball court.

There is no location designated for the court, but Haeussler said there have been some suggestions for possible locations, including in the space between the large baseball field and the Houghton County Arena.

Another recommendation in the recreation plan is the construction somewhere in the city of a disc golf course.

There is a disc golf course owned by Michigan Technological University and a new course at Calumet lake in Calumet Township, but Haeussler said he thinks another course would get used.

“There is still an interest in the Hancock area,” he said.

Items on the new recreation plan carried over from the previous five-year plan include maintenance and improvements to the city’s trails, particularly the Maasto Hiihto trails.

“You always need maintenance on the trails,” he said.

More signage and repair of a bridge over Swedetown Creek are recommended for the Maasto Hiihto trails, Haeussler said.

The recreation plan also recommends getting more easements or purchasing property along the trails, Haeussler said.

Also in the recreation plan is a recommendation that Houghton County, which owns the Houghton County Arena, replace the compressor in the building, Haeussler said. Many Hancock residents use the arena all year.

“If (the arena) was gone, it would be a huge impact to the city,” he said.

The Hancock 2016-20 recreation plan can been seen on the city’s website at