Marquette hopes to put campground next to Driftless Area Wetlands Centre

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The city of Marquette is moving forward with plans to create a campground in this area next to the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The city of Marquette is moving forward with plans to create a campground next to the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre.

The city council, at its May 14 meeting, approved hiring an engineer to develop plans for the site and determine the cost and feasibility of adding water, sewer and electric.

City clerk Bonnie Basemann said the campground would start with 14 sites, but it was not yet determined how many would be seasonal or for daily use, or how much it would cost to rent a site. Restroom and shower facilities would also be available. 

Mayor Steve Weipert said he’d like to see an area for group tents, which the Wetlands Centre could use for programming.

The main goal of the project, he noted, is to generate revenue for the Wetlands Centre.

“I think it will be a great draw,” said Weipert. “All those people will be within walking distance of the Wetlands Centre,” allowing them to easily attend the Friday night farmers market and other activities.

The rest of the area will benefit from having additional visitors too, he added: “People will be going to the river, going to the gas station, picking up a bottle of wine. Maybe they’ll retire and build a house here.”

The city has already budgeted $25,000 for the campground in the current fiscal year, as well as another $25,000 for next year. 

The project has been on officials’ minds for at least five years. In 2014, the council approved a campground ordinance that laid out guidelines, in anticipation of development.

“We should get it started,” said councilwoman Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald, “or we’re never going to.”

In addition to the campground, the council considered two other capital projects at its meeting last week. 

One was for potential blacktop work in the community. Central State Bank is blacktopping its new parking lot, Weipert said, wondering if the city would like to add jobs to that project in order to reduce the cost. The council was supportive of the idea, but wanted pricing before making a final decision.

The other capital project proposal was an electric car charging station. Weipert said visitors have been inquiring if Marquette has a charging station, so he and Basemann looked into the idea. After checking with both the hotels, neither of which were interested in adding one, Weipert said the next ideal spot would be the Edgar Street parking lot because of its location to many amenities.

“You can plug [the car] in, then have four hours to walk around town,” he said. 

It would be free for the public to use.

Council members were unsure of the idea and wondered if the new technology might be more cost-effective to install in the future.

“We just don’t know what our income is going to be,” said councilwoman Cindy Halvorson.

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