It's going to be "back to the future" for Tourist Park - and that's a good thing.
As the basin at the north Marquette park refills this fall, the area will finally return to a semblance of what it was before the massive flood of 2003. When the flood washed away the .7-megawatt hydro dam on the Dead River, it also drained one of the prime warmer-water, inland swimming spots in town - the beach at the Tourist Park campground. Also swept away was a popular fishing spot and a recreational canoeing and kayaking area.
Major construction on the dam has been finished, and only minor work remains to be done. And as the water level in the basin is allowed to rise this fall, the lost community assets will return.
The Central Upper Peninsula Sport Fishing Association is helping to design a handicapped-accessible, floating fishing pier, which should be installed in October. The Department of Natural Resources has already made two separate smallmouth bass plantings in the basin, to be followed by planting a mix of bluegill and yellow perch next year. A handicap-accessible beach has also been designed.
Let's not forget that the project is also helping to "green" the city.
The reconstruction plans include 14 acres of emergent and shrub wetlands, which will be seeded in early September. And the reconstructed dam will help the Marquette Board of Light and Power fulfill new state requirements to generate increasing percentages of electricity from renewable sources. The dam will be a prime clean, emission-free power resource for the city, with hydropower from the rebuilt dam yielding enough electricity to power 500 homes.
City residents have waited for most of a decade to get the Tourist Park basin back. We're glad they won't have to wait much longer.