Fate Of Kalamazoo Harbor Rests In The Hands Of Its Citizens, Says KHA Board
Kalamazoo Harbor Authority Board representatives say the foundation from which to set in motion the work of saving the harbor is now in place.
That foundation includes the creation of a solid short-term, emergency plan; all required governmental permits have been obtained; and an engineering firm has been selected to create a long-term plan and identify funding sources.
And now, the board seeks the support of the entire community and city officials of Saugatuck and Douglas to move forward.
Treasurer Lisa Greenwood recently noted that “the ball is now in the court of the cities (of Saugatuck and Douglas)” in terms of moving ahead, particularly in raising the money to start that long-term plan.
Harbor Authority Chair Robert Sapita adds, “I would like to think it’s also in the hands of the taxpayers, all the stakeholders. It’s their harbor, they are its representatives.”
The cities created the authority in 2011 and charged it with developing plans to ensure continuing navigation and recreation in the harbor as well as advise the cities on mitigating the troubling and costly siltation problem.
“All of the information on which the authority has based its decisions, along with the authority’s recommendations, has been provided to the cities which have adopted the recommendations,” states a recent press release from the group.
“Until funds are made available to the authority, the recommendations cannot be acted upon.”
City officials from both sides of the river say they are beginning to incorporate funding options in their budgets.
How to fund the harbor cleanup is an issue the authority hopes to be resolved in the upcoming months as the current fiscal year ends at the end of June, and a new one begins in July.
The Kalamazoo Harbor Authority Board’s long-term subcommittee recently recommended retaining the St. Joseph-based engineering firm Edgewater Resources to conduct the area’s long-term plan.
Both cities have agreed to the hiring of Edgewater Resources.
“We don’t know what the best solution is and that is why we wanted to (hire) the engineering firm (Edgewater) which has the expertise to recommend to us what to do to minimize the need for annual dredging,” said Sapita.
Meanwhile, Tower Marine owner RJ Peterson went before Saugatuck City Council at its Monday meeting, providing a written statement in which he questions the hiring of an outside firm to conduct the study.
“All of the engineering and environmental information necessary to develop a long-range plan is available at the Tower Marine office,” said Peterson. “All they (city officials) have to do is look at all our documents.”