Wakefield Township approves Indianhead Road work

By P.J. GLISSON news@yourdailyglobe.com WAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP – Members of the Wakefield Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to support a resolution that authorizes an application for state funding to cover reconstruction of Indianhead Road. Barry Bolich, manager of the Gogebic County Road Commission, had announced in January that steps were underway toward such action.

Wakefield Township Supervisor Mandy Lake cautioned that the application for a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation is not a guarantee, but added that she hopes for success. “That would be nice,” she said in relation to prospects for a new road leading to Big Snow Resort’s Indianhead Mountain in the township. Behind the desire to upgrade the road is a longstanding hope of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Chippewa Indians in Watersmeet to invest millions of dollars of its own toward major development of about 20 acres of land it purchased in 2014. The land had been part of Big Snow Resort’s Indianhead Mountain in Wakefield Township. It lies between Indianhead and the resort’s Blackjack Mountain in Bessemer Township. James Williams Jr., tribal chair of LVD, reported earlier this year that the tribe wants to construct a hotel first, with hopes later of adding additional retail options and an off-reservation casino.

According to the new resolution, those endeavors could result in millions of dollars in new investment, along with 200 related jobs. Regarding the current grant application, Lake said, “Usually, there’s a local match, but Lac Vieux Desert said they will provide that, so we’re off the hook.” According to the resolution, Coleman Engineering of Ironwood is the authorized agent to prepare and submit the grant and to address all subsequent activities. If funded, the money would come from MDOT’s Transportation Economic Development Fund Category A Program.

The pending grant – which might result in about $1.4 million – also would cover the construction of a short, new road to allow drivers to continue from Indianhead Road to the desired hotel and casino site. If all goes well, Bolich is hoping that road construction will take place in 2022.

In other news, the board also voted to accept a contract between the township and the GCRC for upgrades of the following two township roads this summer:

–South Boundary Road (from County Road 519 east 245 feet), which is scheduled to receive four inches of hot mix asphalt paving and gravel at a cost of $25,000; and –Old U.S. 2 from Ulvila Road east to Sampson Road for 1.04 miles, which is set to be chip-sealed at a cost of $22,000. According to the contract, the township will pay 60 percent of the cost, for a grand total of $28,200. Board members also: –Learned that Lake will soon send letters to township residents regarding the terms of the township’s spring cleanup, which is scheduled for May 22 from 8 a.m.-noon at Western U.P. Recycling Center in the township’s industrial park. Lake said the terms also will be posted on the township’s website and Facebook page and in local media.

–Heard a budget report from Clerk Jennifer Ahonen, who said she will aim to provide quarterly reports, with the next one planned for July.

–Voted to secure a one year contract with AT&T for continuing landline service. –Voted to approve the supervisor’s attendance at meetings of the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners new standing committee in relation to county ambulance services. Treasurer Denice Laessig volunteered to act as a backup.

–Heard from Lake that board members are welcome to contact the Marenisco Township Hall if they have any concerns about Marenisco’s pending new master plan. The board’s next regular meeting will be on June 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Wakefield Township Hall. The public is welcome with the understanding that pandemicrelated precautions will be in place.