St. Ignace nears boardwalk funding goal

What's happening: A deteriorating boardwalk in St. Ignace has been replaced and the waterfront park is being improved. The overall effort, the Connors Park Huron Waterfront Boardwalk Project, is expected to reach funding goals -- thanks to the St. Ignace Downtown Development Authority, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan-based crowdfunding source, Patronicity -- to complete the project.

What is improving: After donations from the St. Ignace Community Foundation and the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, the boardwalk project started in 2020. Initially begun to replace rotten boards and update the park entrance, work has expanded and included the installation of a brick paver boardwalk in 2021. The next phase will shift the elevated overlook of the Straits of Mackinac with a wood deck and benches.  

What they're saying: “This boardwalk offers residents and visitors a hub for recreational and social activities, as well as stunning views of one of our beautiful Great Lakes, Lake Huron,” said Michele Wildman, MEDC executive vice president of Economic Development Incentives. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for the improvement of the boardwalk through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

What's the view: The key to any boardwalk is the surrounding environment. The Connors Park Huron Waterfront showcases Mackinac Island from the Upper Peninsula side, as well as the Straits of Mackinac. There's also a view of St. Ignace Harbor, which has gone through multiple beautification projects and welcomes numerous boaters. 

Diversity of funding: While crowdfunding is expected to reach the $50,000 mark before the March 17 deadline, matching grants like the Public Spaces Community Places program has significant impact on the success of smaller and rural programs. 

“The Public Spaces Community Places Matching Grant Program makes projects like ours possible.  Small communities have fewer financial resources which makes it very difficult to get projects out of the planning stage and into the development stage,” said Scott Marshall, St. Ignace Downtown Development director.