MPS asks City for easement

Munising Public Schools is closer to selling a piece of lakeshore property, if they want to sell it that is.

At the Munising City Commission meeting on Monday, November 21, the city commission voted in favor of allowing the city manager and attorney to get an estimate for an easement into a parcel near Munising Middle/High School. The parcel is currently used as a practice field for the football team and during the summer for youth soccer. However, the Munising Public Schools Board of Education has recently gotten the land appraised in case it wants to sell in the future.

“We’re not eager to sell, but for it to be marketable, you can’t sell it without an easement,” Munising Public Schools Superintendent Mike Travis said. “The (school) board has already spent the time and resources to appraise it, but there needs to be access to the property.”

Whether or not the school district would sell the property has been rumored for the last few months after the board voted to have the parcel surveyed and appraised. In the process of surveying, it was discovered that the full parcel includes part of the shed and parking area for the American Legion.

According to Travis, the board was investigating what assets the school had. While the district has benefited from extra funding and grant opportunities after multiple waves of pandemic programs through the state and federal government, Munising Public Schools is operating in the black for its 2022 audit and has no immediate need to sell the property.

“In no way are we in a rush to sell waterfront property because they don’t make any more of it,” Travis said.

The area of the requested easement is currently grass and weeds, but would be wide enough to install a road for any access to the property as a whole.

The City Commission primarily focused on what their vote would mean for the property. According to city attorney D. Robb Ferguson, the action does not make an opinion on the project. But according to state law and the city charter, the municipality cannot give land away.

The next step would be to appraise the easement property by itself and as an easement to the school’s parcel, so the difference could be calculated. However, the city staff could not move forward without a vote from the city commission.

“This is more of a formality to let the school and the city move forward,” Munising City Manager Devin Olson said. “It’s a vote of confidence for us to move forward and incur costs of appraising the land.”

The city commission approved the permission to investigate the potential easement 4-0 with Mayor Pro Tem Johanna Bogater absent from the meeting. The city would require a four-fifths majority to sell any land in the future in case the school district sold the property.

Travis said that the potential property for sale would not include the hoop house, which has been used by classes at the middle high school for agricultural sciences and health education.