ISHPEMING - The Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority was disappointed is Ely Township voters rejection of a millage request in Tuesday's election.
"We're very disappointed," said Carol Fulsher, Iron Ore Heritage Trail director. "We always could have been out there a little more, did more presentation or fought a little harder to get it approved but that is always the 20-20 hindsight after an election."
The .2-mill proposal was voted down by a 462 to 438 vote, marking the second time a trail millage request was defeated in the township. If passed, it would have allowed the authority to construct and maintain the portion of the 48-mile trail that runs through Ely Township. The six-year levy would have collected from 2013 to 2018 and was estimated to have generated $9,800 in the first year.
Voters in Ely Township rejected the millage request in 2008 by two votes. Fulsher said the township agreed to put it on their ballot twice and now that it has been voted down a second time, she said the authority won't be asking again.
"We had some really great plans in making a multi-use trail and it's just disappointing that we won't be able to enact them," Fulsher said.
Recreational users of the trail would have included walkers, runners, bikers, inline skaters, equestrians, ATVs, skiers and snowmobilers.
According to Fulsher, the trail route is there and can be used, but it won't be upgraded unless the township does the work on its own or the millage is put on a ballot again and the public changes its mind.
"We can't use our money to upgrade it because that has to be used to upgrade and maintain the part of the trail in the townships and cities that did approve the millage," Fulsher said.
Voters in seven municipalities - Chocolay, Marquette, Negaunee and Tilden townships and the cities of Marquette, Negaunee and Ishpeming - approved trail millages in 2010. Republic Township voters approved the millage last year.
Humboldt and Ely townships are the only municipalities that have a portion of the trail in their jurisdiction and have not passed the millage. Humboldt Township placed the millage on the ballot in 2008, but it was voted down.
"Perhaps the public sentiment will change out there and they will put us on the ballot again some day, but right now we can't do anything," Fulsher said.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.