A lot of potential
Hancock OKs Quincy Green purchase
HANCOCK — The site of numerous community activities — whether farmers’ markets, movie nights or wife-carrying competitions — now belongs to the City of Hancock.
The council voted 6-0 Wednesday night to purchase Quincy Green from Finlandia University for $150,000.
“I think it’s the closest we have to a town square,” said Glenn Anderson, a Houghton County commissioner and former Hancock city manager. “As we all know, the city has an opportunity to acquire it and keep it in public hands for a long, long time in the future … it’s become already an accepted part of the community, and it’d be a shame if that was ever lost.”
The purchase area includes everything going down the hill from the entryway to Hirvonen Hall, including the stairs, sidewalk and sandstone wall.
Councilor Richard Freeman thanked Finlandia for having let children use the hill for sledding.
Picking up on a suggestion from resident John Zurcher, Councilor Lisa McKenzie advocated for the city to add a skating rink for kids on the green.
“(Former city manager) Barry (Givens) and I spent a lot of time talking about it,” she said.
The idea of an outdoor ice rink in the downtown is already part of the city’s most recent master plan, which states the rink “could serve as a general recreational area, a way to attract people to the downtown stores and a grand stage for local ice events (existing and new).
As part of the sale agreement, the city must keep Quincy Green as green space and keep it open for public use.
Finlandia can still use the grounds for no cost when notifying the city at least 60 days in advance. Those days cannot conflict with scheduled recurring city events.
Quincy Green becomes the latest public recreation area purchased by the city, which bought the Houghton County Arena from the county for $1 earlier this year.
The council took no action Wednesday on a proposal to schedule a public hearing on the purchase of the community garden areas on Ryan Street. Instead, it was moved to the Downtown Development Association. The purchase could also become more of a community effort.
In other action, the council:
• Approved a $9,000 grant from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Quality for a scrap tire recycling event. Plans are to hold it on the first Friday in May. It will be limited to 10 tires per household.
• Heard from City Manager Mary Babcock Hancock’s annual Key Ingredients event would return July 14, the Friday night before Canal Run. This year the city will add a street dance.
• Heard from Babcock the city’s planning commission had met with planner Patrick Coleman to review the master plan, which is being updated this year. The Planning Commission will revise the plan before bringing it to the council for review. Several public input sessions will take place this year, Babcock said.
Mayor Pro Tem Kurt Rickard asked the public to participate.
“I’ll really be disappointed if we got to the end of this master plan update and people said they didn’t have a chance to provide input, because we’re going to be actively looking for it,” he said.
• Tabled a proposal to move back to one council meeting per month until the full council was present. The meeting would be held on the third Wednesday. Councilor Ron Blau, who was absent from Wednesday’s meeting, said at a previous meeting one per month was reasonable now that the council had dealt with larger city issues like revamping its zoning ordinance.
• Heard from Babcock five new firefighters had joined the department. The total of 22 is the highest it’s been in years, she said. There is enough turnout gear to outfit the new members, though the department will need to get dress uniforms for them.
•Heard from Babcock the city’s recycling numbers are trending upward. The last time the Copper Country Recycling Initiative met, the city had a 40% participation rate, versus a statewide average of 19%.