Efforts Are Moving Forward To Have Saugatuck Township Join The KLHA
The prospects are good that Saugatuck Township may decide to become a member of the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority (KLHA), authority officials recently announced.
The Authority is responsible for addressing the problem of siltation in the harbor and finding ways to pay for it. This includes immediate dredging needs as well as developing a long-term strategy for the waterway.
When the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas approved an inter-governmental agreement in 2011 to form the authority, township officials declined to join in, saying they were concerned about making monetary commitments at that time.
Township representatives also said they were uncertain about how much benefits, little or a lot, joining the Authority would actually provide their constituents.
“There seems to be a new attitude,” Douglas City Council Member Lisa Greenwood announced at last week’s Douglas City Council meeting about township officials’ change in their thinking.
Greenwood is a member of the KLHA and part of the subcommittee recently created to address township membership.
The other subcommittee members include: KLHA Chair Ken Trester, who also serves as Saugatuck Mayor Pro-Tem; Saugatuck Township Trustee Jonathan Phillips; and finally, Saugatuck Township Liaison to the KLHA Jon Helmrich.
The subcommittee recently met and laid out some key points for the Authority to consider in drafting a formal proposal to the township. Those conditions, the subcommittee noted in a February 15 memo to the Authority, include:
* Have the township join by June 1 of this year.
* Propose that the township join with two voting members.
* The township will have no financial responsibility for any Authority expenses incurred prior to joining in 2016.
* Township will have a vote on any proportional spending decisions made once it is a voting member and has the ability to opt out of any such decision.
* Authority by-laws will be amended to reflect the township’s participation and are subject to legal review by the township’s legal counsel.
* Attention is drawn to the Port of Refuge designation of the Kalamazoo River Cove— the water of which is located in Saugatuck Township.
* Attention is also drawn to the status of the Army Corps of Engineers’ plans to continue or discontinue the dredging of the Kalamazoo River mouth—parts of which are in the township.
* A formal proposal will be drafted for submission to the township board and manager at a future date yet to be determined.