Hancock takes over arena

City Council: Residents to be surveyed for ideas

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette This photo shows the Houghton County Arena. The City of Hancock has finalized its purchase of the building from the county.

HANCOCK — Hancock has finalized the purchase of one popular space in the city, while two more have yet to be finalized.

The city closed on the Houghton County Arena last week, City Manager Mary Babcock said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Hancock recently purchased the arena for $1 from Houghton County.

The city will not change the keys until it becomes the operating agent on July 1. It will take over from Portage Lake Multi-Rec, which will dissolve at the end of June.

The city’s recreation commission is proposing a survey for city residents to come up with a new name for the arena.

Also Wednesday, the council voted to apply for a state grant to fund the purchase of the Ryan Street Garden property from Finlandia.

Through the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Public Spaces, Community Places grant, the city will receive 100% matching funds if it reaches its $6,000 goal through a crowd-funding campaign on Patronicity.

“If something were to happen and we lose the Ryan Street garden, we’d probably still want to find property for a community garden, so that $12,000 will be used for the community garden space,” Babcock said.

A similar program was used to help fund the city’s dog park, which opened last year.

Six weeks ago, the city had reached an agreement with President Tim Pinnow to set the price of the garden at $27,000. Babcock had also talked to Portage Health Foundation about contributing part of the cost.

Councilor Amanda Lounibos has been managing the Ryan Street garden for the past seven years. Even after expanding to 21 plots two years ago, it has a waitlist, she said.

“Our garden members are really motivated to help us, so I don’t think there’ll be any problem raising the funds,” she said.

Hancock’s purchase of Quincy Green is still in progress, Babcock said. The council approved purchasing the space from Finlandia University for $150,000 in February.

A bank appraisal will verify the value of Finlandia’s portion of Hirvonen Hall. That will determine if the purchase can go through, Babcock said.


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