Calumet offered land for park — with catch that’s actually claw

Graham Jaehnig/ Daily Mining Gazette Leah Polzien, executive director of the Calumet Downtown Development Authority and Calumet Main Street, discussed a proposal with the Village Council on a possible green space.

CALUMET — Leah Polzien, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority and Main Street Calumet, spoke to the Village Council last Thursday about a lot on Fifth Street, where Sac’s Bowling Alley stood. The lot was purchased by John Mueller, who purchased the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge last fall.

Polzien said Mueller offered the lot to the DDA with the stipulation it would be turned into a green space.

But that is not the only stipulation. Another is a “clawback” — allowing Mueller to take it back within 10 years.

The back of the lot adjoins the back of the vacant lot next the Calumet Theater and Shute’s Saloon, which would create a much larger space for the village. However, it would add expense to the DDA that Polzien is cautious of accepting the offer.

“I don’t know that as president of Main Street, I want to take the property,” she told the council, “because it is just another cost to the organization that we already have a hard time funding, and the other issue I have with it is, I think the space I think we’d all like to see there would be cohesive between the Sac’s lot and the theater lot, it’s our sidewalk. And if we wind up owning those pieces, then how much of a funding process is it going to become?”

Trustee Nathan Anderson said he always liked the idea of making a green space in the village, because the more attractive the village is, the more people will come into the village, and tax values will increase, an opinion shared by Trustee Doug Harrer.

Trustee Virginia Dwyer, like Polzien, was a bit more cautious. She said while she is not against it, what she is against is the clawback.

“There is nothing that I read that said what is acceptable to him,” said Dwyer. “I have concerns that because he has this clawback thing that any point in time that some prospect comes up, he could use that (property) for something, he just claw it back. I thought that 10 years was insane.

“Nothing was ever discussed like what’s going to go there, like will there be grass or a park bench? Who is going to take care of it, how much is it going to cost? We were just presented with ‘we assign this non-binding whatever.’ What’s going on it?”

Dwyer said she would be in favor of it — if the clawback provision is removed from the proposal.