2 parks in PI County receive grants

ROGERS CITY — Two Presque Isle County parks have been awarded Department of Natural Resources grants.

P.H. Hoeft State Park received $319,000 in Land and Water Conservation Fund grants. Presque Isle County received $74,000 to go toward the Ocqueoc Outdoor Center.

Friends of the Ocqueoc Outdoor Center Treasurer Dr. Mary Ann Heidemann said the group is “thrilled, absolutely thrilled,” about the news.

Along with the grant the group had to raise $24,000 in match funds she said. The center has nine historic buildings on the grounds. There is one in particular the money will be used for.

“The garage building is not in good shape. It was a maintenance garage and woodshop at one point. It’s quite large and the roof is caving in and we’re addressing it first,” Heidemann said.

The Passport Grant Program emphasizes rehabilitation of existing buildings, she said. The renovated building will have multiple uses. It will be used as a craft area in order for people to take classes.

“Before we used the dining hall which was a challenge because you can’t leave stuff out because you have to eat there. This way you can have longer term classes and do projects that take a week or two to complete,” she said.

Because of the building size they can use the rest of the space for storage of lawn equipment and canoes.

She said before this grant they couldn’t keep canoes at the center because there wasn’t any space to store them during the winter.

“Now we have a place to store things like canoes. We could go for equipment grants. So those are things we’re talking about and they’re darn excited about it,” she said.

She said they had a lot of people pledge time and money so the friends group will have to remind people of its pledges and work. Then it will have to solicit an architect and bid out the project before it begins renovations.

DNR Officer Blake Gingrich said he drives by the center often.

“I go by there a lot and spend some time there. It’s just a beautiful spot. They need the funding to bring the center back up to speed. So it’s nice to see funding come to your county,” he said.

He said the Hoeft project should be started in the fall. The money will be used to install new cable and electrical pedestals at the campground. The money for the grant is from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“We’ve been after this funding for many years since 2003. There’s many state parks and a lot of infrastructure is really old. We do the best we do with what we’ve had. We’re replacing the electrical on the campground,” he said.

He said the park will have about 90 percent of the engineering plans complete and staff are excited to begin their plans.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.