Calumet applies for $250,000 grant to assist in fire site restoration

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette There is very little left of three historic structures on Calumet’s Main Street after a devastating fire destroyed them on May 22. One of the structures, originally built in 1903 as Nelson’s Restaurant, then became the Parkside Bakery in the 1950s, and was last called the Evergreen, was destroyed in the blaze. This photograph, taken on May 24, was prior to the EPA beginning cleanup of the site.

CALUMET — Calumet Village is to receive $250,000 to assist in restoration and redevelopment of the May, 2021 fire site on Fifth Street.

On May 21, 2021, a fire devastated the 100 block of Fifth Street in downtown Calumet, leaving 41 people homeless, three buildings demolished and one damaged. Local and state officials immediately began working to determine what tools were available to the community to clean up the site.

A release from the village states that early in the process, Representative Greg Markkanen and Senator Ed McBroom reached out to the State Legislature to bring State resources to the project.

“Thanks to their efforts, the village of Calumet is now able to apply for a $250,000 Michigan Enhancement Grant that can be used to assist in restoration of the site,” the release says.

A great deal of work has already been accomplished at the site as a result of Federal and State assistance, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). All of the fire debris has been removed from the site and the site filled with clean material.

The EPA will finish topping the site off in the spring to address any settling that occurred over the winter. According to Calumet Village Manager, Amber Goodman.

“While summer will see a site returned to clean, bare ground,” she said, “there are additional expenses that will be required to create a site that is truly ready for redevelopment.”

In October 2021, Brian Kelly, federal on-scene coordinator with the EPA, said that in consultation with the Calumet Village Council trustees and EGLE, it was decided to wait until spring to add topsoil, rather than in the fall. The concern was placing backfill so late in the year would erode into Fifth Street.

Starting in the spring, additional site work will be completed to address issues that were not part of the scope of the environmental clean-up, such as removing remaining foundation walls and creating connections for the water and sewer systems. Environmental assessments, title work and a site survey are also planned. This grant funded effort would cover community visioning for the vacant site and creation of a concept plan that conforms to Village zoning and historic district guidelines, an important tool for a developer in understanding community desires.

Funds provided by the Michigan Enhancement Grant are proposed to be used to reduce costs and provide information needed by a potential developer.

The Village of Calumet is working with representatives from the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Main Street Calumet, and Houghton County to submit the grant application by the Jan. 21 deadline. If approved, activities will begin as soon as this spring

Goodman said that as she understands it, the grant is for redevelopment of those properties.

“It’s an enhancement grant,” she said. “So, we have to fill out the grant application and the grant project budget.”

Once those steps are completed and the application is accepted, the village will receive the funds.

“The things you understand about redevelopment, such as waterline hook-ups,” Goodman explained. “It makes the properties more desirable for anyone considering developing the properties in the future.”


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