Planning Commission recommends deck removal

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton Planning Commission members Bob Backon, Mike Needham, Tom Merz, Jennifer Julien, Eric Waara, Michelle Jarvie-Eggart, Bill Leder and Kristine Bradof discuss a recommendation to remove the Lakeshore Drive parking deck during Tuesday’s meeting.

HOUGHTON — The Houghton Planning Commission echoed the parking deck subcommittee’s conclusion: It needs to come down.

The commission voted Tuesday night to recommend the city council begin the planning process to tear down the deck, built in 1978, in tandem with the process of replacing it, including a public engagement. In a 6-1 vote, the council accepted the recommendation Wednesday night.

The parking deck subcommittee endorsed the idea at its meeting earlier this month.

“…We recognize that any reasonable next course starts with the parking deck coming down, we need to start making that plan, and concurrently, we need to recommend to the council that they start to consider what’s next on that site and how to meet all of the needs we have in downtown right now on that land,” said Commissioner Mike Needham, who was a member of the subcommittee.

The subcommittee had rejected other alternatives — leaving the deck up, or keeping part — due to the deterioration of the deck and its age.

The vote was unanimous aside from Commissioner Jennifer Julien, who abstained due to potential conflict of interest.

With the subcommittee’s recommendation adopted, the planning commission also disbanded the subcommittee. Along with the master plan subcommittee, it started earlier this year after Marquette-based developer The Veridea Group withdrew from negotiations over the potential sale of the property. Planning Commission Chair Tom Merz, who led the subcommittee, said it had served its purpose.

Commissioner Kristine Bradof said the Planning Commission could always reform the committee if the council feels it is necessary.


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