By KURT HAUGLIE
CALUMET TOWNSHIP - After almost two years since an agreement in principle was reached, the sale of the Quincy Smelting Works site in Ripley should be completed by the beginning of September.
In October 2012, the Franklin Township Board of Trustees, and the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission came to an agreement for the sale of the site to the National Park Service for $335,000, plus the forgiveness of $11,437 in loans from the Advisory Commission to the township. The Advisory Commission made a down payment of $2,000 on Oct. 22, 2012. The original agreement gave the NPS until Sept. 30, 2015, to pay off the $335,000 sale price.
However, at the regular quarterly meeting of the KNHP Advisory Commission Tuesday, Scott See, Advisory Commission executive director, told commission members enough donations and pledges have been received to start on the paperwork to finalize the sale.
See said the finalization of the agreement for the sale of the smelter site requires seven steps regarding environmental assessment of the site, four of which have been completed. Two more of the steps should be completed this week, and the last step will be completed soon.
A Reasonable Steps letter regarding how to limit liability for any contamination at the site was received from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, also, See said.
"We now have a Reasonable Steps letter in hand," he said. "All this means we will have completed our environmental due diligence by early next week and be ready to exercise our option agreement with Franklin Township."
See said he's hoping to close on the deal by the end of August.
"We want to close within 45 days," he said.
Glenn Ekdahl, supervisor of Franklin Township, said he's been involved with intermittent talks with the NPS about possible uses for the smelter site for 15 years, so he's glad the sale is finally about to be completed.
"It's been a long process," he said. "I've been very patiently waiting."
Ekdahl said once the sale of the smelter site is completed, the money might be used to renovate the former Quincy, Franklin and Hancock Townships Fire Department hall on U.S. 41 near the Quincy Mine Hoist Association property into new township offices. A preliminary estimate for that renovation work is about $200,000. The current township office is in a house at the entrance to the smelter site next to U.S. 41, and it is part of the sale agreement with the NPS.
See said once the sale of the smelter site is completed, discussions about its future use will begin. One possibility is that businesses could be located on the property. The NPS is also considering moving the headquarters for the Isle Royale National Park from Houghton to the smelter site.
"The conversation continues with the park service," he said.
On an unrelated issue about the smelter site, See said the National Guard has dismissed the idea of making the site the northern end of an emergency bridge because the distance between Houghton and the site is too great.
"The National Guard has actually decided to look at other options along the Portage Canal," he said.