Pictured in the featured photo at a meeting held to discuss the fate of the property are Robin Hissong-Berry and Susan Vrondran. Photo by Chris Faulknor
Boyne school officials want your opinions on what to do with nearly three dozen acres of woodland and swampland it recently learned it owns.
The first brainstorming session on the matter was held on Tuesday Nov. 14, with various local stakeholders—including those representing Boyne City Public Schools, real estate professionals, and Eveline and Melrose township officeholders—who gathered to discuss the future of the 35-acre piece of land once owned by the Melrose Unit School District.
“My only concern—no matter what we do out there—I just want to make sure we’re going to be able to maintain it and take care of it,” said local realtor Lynda Christensen.
“I’ve seen, over the years, where we’ve done this or done that and then nobody wanted to lay claim and take of it and keep it up.”
The land, just south of M-75 in Melrose Township, became a Boyne schools property back in the late 1960s when the Melrose Unit School District was disbanded.
The property had long-since been forgotten. Then, when someone wished to buy a portion of the land, the search for its owner began.
Melrose Township Clerk Robin Hissong-Berry, who also attended the meeting, said she saw the property listed by the county as “Melrose Township” property but she could not find the deed for it.
“When I went to get a copy of it at the register of deeds, she said it’s Melrose Township Unit School property, it’s not township property,” Hissong-Berry said. “So, then I reached out and told Boyne and Petoskey schools and said you guys have an opportunity here, somebody owns this.”
The property was actually nearly 40 acres, with five on the east side of US-131, and the remaining bulk of land on the west side.
The meeting was attended by just under a dozen people and discussion lasted for nearly a half an hour, during which time ideas for how to use the property were shared.
The two main uses considered centered on education and
One attendee said they would like to see a boardwalk built around the swamp, and a walking bridge constructed over the river.
Lynda Christensen said she liked an idea brought up during the meeting of keeping the property rustic, so students and teachers could use the area for learning opportunities.
A representative for the Top of Michigan Mountain Bike Association, who attended the meeting, suggested that, while hiking trails might work on the property, it is likely too far from the existing and proposed trail systems, and too small to use for mountain bike trails.
“I like the idea of having a simple structure out there with a roof so that we can have classes and events out there, or other school-related events,” said Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education Member Ross McLane. “I would keep it simple so that whatever alterations are volunteered on it are tolerable and not costly to fix.”
Ultimately, Boyne City Public Schools Superintendent Pat Little said the future of the property is far from decided. And, he added, he welcomes public input on the matter by calling him at (231) 439-8190 or email him at plittle@Boyne.k12.mi.us.
“I guess my ask would be … if everyone would go back to their respective groups, let them know you came to this meeting, and what we talked about,” Little said… “And, let’s just see what happens.”
According to school officials, the only real decisions likely to be made about the property in the near future are to have some of the trees harvested, and to restrict motor vehicles from being used on the land.