Located 6 miles south of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan Technological University on US 41, Chassell Township is a Keweenaw community on the move! With an aggressive 5-Year Recreation Plan built on citizen input, Chassell’s Planning Commission and Township Board (with the support of a half mil recreation millage passed by voters and the support of key funders including the Portage Health Foundation, the Chassell Lions Club, and the Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region) are building Chassell into an even more awesome place to live, work, and play!
In 2019, the township implemented the first fenced off-leash dog park in the upper peninsula, the Chassell Bark Park, on the lakefront on the south end of Centennial Park. Also in 2019 with substantial funding assistance through a Recreation Grant from the Portage Health Foundation and significant volunteer effort from the Chassell Township Schools’ construction trades class and local citizens, the township implemented a 4k, 10-station fitness trail including a reconstructed a bridge on the course on the 10k classic cross country ski trail where the trail is located.
In 2020, the township received substantial funding assistance through a Recreation Grant from the Portage Health Foundation for an ADA accessible canoe/kayak launch on the Sturgeon River. The site design was completed by U.P. Engineers & Architects, project approval was secured from the EGLE and Corps of Engineers, and the excavation work to notch the river bank was completed by DP Construction this past week. A gangway and floating dock/launch will be added in 2022. Also in 2020, with funding support from a Keweenaw Community Foundation’s Portage Health Foundation Outdoor Wellness & Recreation Fund grant, the township GPSed its classic cross country ski trail, snowshoe trails, and fitness trail in order to develop trailhead, on-trail, and on-line maps of the trail systems. This project was carried out through the volunteer efforts of the Director of Research Computing at MTU, local volunteers, Chassell DPW Staff, and signage developed by Copper Island Printing in Calumet.
In 2021, the township received significant funding assistance through a Recreation Grant from the Portage Health Foundation, significant funding from the Chassell Lions Club, and a playground equipment manufacturer’s grant for a new playground on the lakefront at Centennial Park. This project started with a significant volunteer effort by the Chassell Township Schools’ construction trades class which deconstructed the former playground which had served a long, useful life. The site was excavated by DP Construction to build up the site for better drainage, then athletes from MTU, Chassell DPW staff, and local/area volunteers supervised by Sinclair Recreation constructed the new playground manufactured by GameTime. The Township also received a small grant in 2021 from the Portage Health Foundation that supported the development of a 9-hole disc golf course in the woods and fields owned by the Chassell Township Schools behind the schools. The course was brushed and constructed by local volunteers and the Chassell Township Schools’ construction trades class. Now open on weekdays after 3:30 p.m. and all day on weekends, this project has also been supported by local businesses.
Currently in process is a project to develop an historic interpretive trail on the site where the Sturgeon River Lumber Company operated from 1888 to 1902 and subsequently the Worcester Lumber Company from 1902 to 1929. This project involves an awesome partnership between between Chassell Township, the Chassell Township Schools, the Chassell Historical Organization, the MTU Industrial Archeology program, a private funder, and the landowner. The trail will start in Centennial Park, follow the rail-trail to the former location of the Chassell House (which housed mill workers) before heading lakeward to the site of the mill’s hot pond. The trail will then work its way through the locations where the sawmill, shingle mill, lathe mill, and planing mill once stood before heading back to Centennial Park. Chassell Schools history students are researching the history of the mill with the assistance of an Industrial Archeology Ph.D candidate at MTU and resources at the Chassell Heritage Center to develop the interpretive signs to be placed along the trail. EGLE permitting will be required for a boardwalk to make up about 400 feet of the trail that will need to traverse a wetland area. Brushing for the trail is expected to begin this fall. If you would like to learn about the project, go to this 906Outdoors YouTube link and you will find a story about the project at 14:01 of the Discovering broadcast:
Chassell Township secured a Regional Prosperity Initiative Community Marketing Mini-Grant in 2019 that provided 80% of the funding for banners in the downtown highlighting the township’s assets as well as a new banner for its annual Strawberry Festival, a new sign for Centennial Park, and the Chassell Bark Park sign.
2021 has also seen a major redevelopment project with Mark Koski constructing 4 townhouses within the long vacant Chassell Community Center at the entrance to Centennial Park.
If you embrace winter and have the ability to work remotely, consider locating in the Keweenaw where you will find ubiquitous natural beauty, no congestion, and lower crime! While I am particularly partial and would recommend Chassell, there are many awesome communities to consider! Learn more by visiting: https://remoteworkforcekeweenaw.com