Where is the project site and what does the site include?
The project site is an 80-acre portion of Straits State Park in St. Ignace that includes the Father Marquette National Memorial. (The west side of the I-75 approach to the Mackinac Bridge)

What is the goal of the proposed redevelopment and illustrative master plan?
The goals include transformation from a passive site with minimal natural and cultural interpretation into a vibrant one that inspires reflection, learning, and healthy lifestyles through cultural and natural resource-based experiences built around the Anishinaabe and French heritage of the region. The transformation will be a sustainable destination tourism attraction created through partnerships with for-purpose and for-profit organizations with shared values and goals. It is varied, diverse and adaptable. It has a positive economic impact on the community and local businesses.

Who are the Key Partners that have shaped the purpose and vision statement and draft master plan?
The active partner collaborative includes: Moran Township, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Lake Superior State University, Mackinac Straits Health System, Michigan Department of Natural Resources: Parks and Recreation Division and Michigan History Center

Is there funding for proposed improvements?
A $500,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities was awarded to this effort and will require $1,500,000 in matching donations. These funds will be used for Phase One site improvements.

How many matching donations have been received to date?
The Meijer Foundation and several individual donors have recognized the value of the project and contributed or pledged funding that will leverage time-limited matching funds from the grant, which are close to meeting the first-year goal of $190,000 with the total match requirement to be met over four years.

What elements are proposed in the Phase One Improvements?
As shown in the draft master plan, Phase One elements include: Heritage Circle and Pow wow ground enhancements with year-round interactive interpretive opportunities; a Learning Commons building with room for workshops, classes, conversation, interpretation and site operations; the Iron Belle Trail trailhead; the existing memorial; walking trails and great bridge views.

When will Phase One Improvements begin construction on site?
While a definitive schedule for construction has not been established, Phase One construction will likely fall within a 3 -5 to year timeline that will be determined by matching donations, completing of formal planning, design and permitting and receiving awardable bids for construction.

How much will the overall proposed master plan project cost?
A total site development cost has not been prepared yet. When the public input process is complete, and the master plan finalized, a preliminary estimate for construction will be prepared that includes all site improvements. Phasing of improvement development will likely be necessary and will depend on partnership opportunities and arrangements.

What will the total lengths of trail systems be within the project site?
Approximate trail statistics include:

  • The trail Business Loop is 3,250 lf (approx. 6/10 of a mile)
  • The Iron Belle Trail that cuts across the site E-W (from bridge to Boulevard Road) is 1,400 lf (approx. 1/4 mile)
  • The Heritage Circle/Learning Center loop (to/from the bridge) is approx. 4,900 lf (approx. 9/10 mile)
  • The amphitheater loop (from Blvd Road along amphitheater parking up around seating lawn and back to road) is approx. 2,150 lf (approx. 4/10 mile)

Local joggers might appreciate knowing a 2 mile out and back loop exists: starting at the NW parking lot and heading down the east side of the amphitheater to the lawn parking lot and back up the west side of the amphitheater then to the learning commons and along that interpretive trail loop and back around the existing lot and then doubling back on the trail to the NW parking lot.