Purchase of smelter site by park advisory commission nearly complete

CALUMET TOWNSHIP – The purchase of the Quincy Smelting Works site in Ripley by the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Advisory Commission may be completed sometime this summer, according to Scott See.

During the regular quarterly meeting of the Advisory Commission Tuesday, See, who is the commission’s executive director, said there was a change made in the agreement between the Advisory Commission and smelter site owners Franklin Township, which will allow the purchase to be completed much earlier than anticipated.

In October 2012, the Franklin Township Board of Trustees and the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission came to an agreement for the sale of the site to the National Park Service for $335,000 plus the forgiveness of $11,437 in loans from the Advisory Commission to the township. The Advisory Commission made a down payment of $2,000 on Oct. 22, 2012. The agreement gave the commission until Sept. 30, 2015, to pay off the $335,000 sale price.

See said the sale of the site can be completed quicker than the 2015 deadline because Franklin Township will be receiving money from the Michigan Department of Transportation for the sale of easements needed for the realignment of M-26 through the township during the upcoming construction season.

“The value of those easements is being put into the agreement,” he said.

He is working on raising funds to match a $100,000 donation for the purchase of the site, See said, and $85,000 has been raised toward the match.

See said he expects the sale of the smelter site to close in early summer.

In a telephone interview after the Advisory Commission meeting, Glenn Ekdahl, Franklin Township supervisor, said the township board of trustees at their regular meeting Monday voted 4-1 to accept the payment of $141,050 from MDOT for the purchase of the easements on M-26.

“We’re reducing the price of the sale of the smelter,” he said.

Once the KNHP takes over the smelter, Ekdahl said the township will have to find another township hall. The current hall is in a house at the entrance to the site next to M-26. The township board has two years to find a new hall, however.

The township took over ownership of the site in 1999, and Ekdahl said he and the board of trustees have been working since then to find a use for it, so he’s pleased the sale of the property is nearly complete.

“It was quite an accomplishment,” he said.

The smelter site was part of the Torch Lake Superfund Site, which was created in 1986, but the Environmental Protection Agency delisted it this past October, which See said Tuesday is important for development of the site.

See said he and KNHP Superintendent Mike Pflaum have been talking with officials at the National Park Service Midwest Regional office in Omaha, Neb., about possible uses for the site.

On another topic, See told Advisory Commission members the 2014 Heritage Grant program has started. Up to $100,000 will be available to businesses and organizations involved in projects which tell the story of the copper mining period. The deadline for applications is April 1. Those chosen to receive grants will be notified on May 1, and the grants will be available June 1.

During his report to the commissioners, Pflaum said:

he, KNHP Management Assistant Tom Baker and See will be working on the park’s strategic plan. The park’s business plan is also being put together.

Steve DeLong, KNHP landscape architect, is working on a reuse study for the smelter site.

a resource management plan has been completed for KNHP, Isle Royale National Park, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

reported in the upcoming federal budget there may be more money available for the NPS than previously thought.

he will be starting as superintendent at Pictured Rocks on Jan. 26. He will serve as superintendent for both parks until a new superintendent is found for KNHP.