Douglas Officials Enthused Over Floating Marina Proposal That Would Enhance Wade's Bayou
A lot of enthusiasm came from the Douglas City Council at Monday night’s meeting over a small floating marina proposal that proponents say jibes with the overall harbor improvement endeavor, will bring people to downtown Douglas while also enhancing Wade’s Bayou, a long-time goal of city leaders.
City officials have been talking about a public marina in recent years as a way to have more amenities and enhance the appeal of the city for residents and visitors alike.
They had flirted with the idea of purchasing the existing Tower Marine to make it into a public marina, but that has fallen by the wayside for now as both parties—owner R.J. Peterson and city officials—accuse each other of bad faith negotiations and not wanting to communicate about it in earnest.
“This is meant as a snapshot of a couple of opportunities and (to) get some costs to it,” said Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere on Monday before Edgewater Resources President Gregory Weykamp presented his proposal on the floating dock system that could be constructed at the west end of Center Street, the popular park and kayak launch area.
The project is being proposed in phases, with a completed project cost estimated at $2.3 million. LeFevere said he wanted to determine the level of interest from council, and if there was interest, set a course for a more in-depth analysis.
“The thing about having a floating dock is that you could move it and place it anywhere you want,” Weykamp told council.
He envisions a project involving water trails that will serve as a network connecting the city’s harbor waterfront.
It would entail dredging from the Red Dock to Wade’s Bayou, estimated to cost $360,250 and for which Edgewater has already gotten the green light from State of Michigan regulatory agencies, said Weykamp.
That dredged material - and possibly other dredging done in the harbor - would then be used to create a confined disposal facility (CDF), envisioned as small islands built off of Shultz Park in an area Weykamp says is already forming those islands from silt coming down river.
This component of the proposal would still need approval from regulatory agencies, he noted.
The first phase features the most basic components for a small marina— a 50-foot main floating gangway with 12 boat slips (24 with finger piers) with a maximum boat length set at 30 feet.
“You could tiptoe into it for about $170,000,” Weykamp told council about the the first phase.
The city would then have the option, with more costs associated, of adding on such things as a pile-supported deck ($192,000) with a boat house ($40,000), a floating gathering area ($85,000), marina utilities of water and power ($20,000), and a boardwalk edge ($185,000).
The city could replicate the gangway and boat slip system so as to have possibly 24 boat slips or 48 in total with finger piers.
The city would, in part, pay for the marina through either seasonal or transient boat docking fees. “It could pay for itself in 10 to 20 years,” said Weykamp.
Besides the Wade’s Bayou location, the city and engineer also looked at purchasing Point Pleasant Marina, the waterfront estate at 201 Washington just east of Blue Star Highway Bridge that has been on the market for about a year now.
But the engineer determined Wade’s Bayou was a more doable scenario since the city already owns that property and wouldn’t have to expend funds on a purchase (the 15 boat-slip Point Please is priced at $1.3 million, according to trulia.com).
Douglas’ relationship with Edgewater is extensive, having last year hired the engineering firm for a master plan that addresses future development and land use, including harbor and waterfront development. The City of Saugatuck also has contracted Edgewater for a long-term harbor plan, as harbor siltation and ways to reduce and control it is an endeavor both cities share under the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority.
The next step involves engineers and city working on more details and meeting with state regulatory agencies to address the creation of a CDF.
Tower Marine owner Peterson said if Douglas officials’ plans are simply to look at putting a few dinghy docks along the waterway, “That would be fine, but if they are looking at this being a way to build a larger-scale marina - in compeition with his marina - that’s ridiculous and would not be in line with the best interests of the (local) Harbor Authority.
“It’s been made clear there would be no money coming from the state or feds with this proposal to help with the harbor cleanup and that’s the most important thing,” noted Peterson. “At some point, they (Douglas leaders) are going to have to deal with the real harbor issues.”