Hilgerson says goodbye to the city of Marquette

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Dean Hilgerson closed out his tenure as Marquette’s city manager last week, after holding the office since Dec. 2008. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Dean Hilgerson closed out his tenure as Marquette’s city manager last week, after holding the position since Dec. 2008.

When he was hired, Hilgerson noted, the council “wanted someone to direct capital projects, so I went with that.”

Since then, the city of Marquette has completed nearly $10 million in capital projects. Notable endeavors include the Bench stormwater project, ball diamond lights, the overlook and boardwalk, Driftless Area Wetlands Centre, the downtown project and the Edgar Street project, which is set to begin this summer. Hilgerson said he and former mayor Norma Mason also got the ball rolling, in early 2015, on the Bench emergency evacuation route.

Hilgerson said he feels the downtown project will reap the most direct benefits for the city.

“The sustainability of Marquette is tied to tourism and the ability to attract people to move and settle here,” he explained. “Because of its proximity to the river, I’m convinced downtown Marquette is a jewel waiting to be further developed; there’s tremendous opportunity. The owners of the Cobblestone Hotel recognized that, and that’s why they were willing to invest.”

Hilgerson said Marquette is financially strong and has been fortunate to have Lady Luck Casino providing stability for the city. 

“Citizens who have followed Marquette’s progress recognize the city is as strong, or stronger, financially as when I came, even after the various capital projects,” he stated.

As he moves on, Hilgerson said he’s appreciative of the opportunity to serve the city and work with some great people.

He admitted it’s a little bittersweet to leave before the Edgar Street project is complete. The project will include sanitary sewer work as well as a bike path. A proponent of trails, Hilgerson considers this the first leg of a trail to the Wetlands Centre, where he also advocated for development of a campground and an Iowa welcome center.

Hilgerson said he’s hopeful others in the community will continue the work.

“I trust there will be those who pick up the baton and keep moving forward,” he said. “I think there’s a silent majority of citizens who recognize what’s been done and the potential. It needs to be a community effort; the city can only become what its citizens want it to be.”

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