Kalamazoo Harbor's Stuck Tug "Is An Eyesore", Says Douglas Official; Restoration Study Possible
The old tugboat “Reiss” that remains stuck in the Kalamazoo Harbor due to to a clay and sediment-filled river floor, has become an anti-aesthetic element on the water for some Douglas City Council members.
The 101-year-old tug, near the Red Dock and Tower Marine in Douglas, was discussed at Monday night’s council meeting.
“I see it as an eyesore,” said Douglas City Council Member Greg Harvath.
“We have complained to the Coast Guard and the (Allegan County) Sheriff’s Department, but nothing has come of it. They are the ones that have enforcement over it,” Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere told council in response to the inquiry.
Those entities have jurisdiction over the local waterway and, as such, also have the only legal authority for enforcement on such matters, he added.
Douglas Council Member Eric Smith described the stuck tug as a “seagull pooping area,” but he also highlighted the positive aspects.
“It has become an icon for the two cities as a place to meet in the water,” he said, referring to events such as the 4th of July fireworks when kayakers congregate around the tugboat to watch the display.
There are plans for the tug, says its former owner RJ Peterson. “There is interest by a couple of museums to restore it. That tug is about the last one there is around (in the nation),” said Peterson.
He added that it was a coal-fired steam tugboat.
Peterson says he owned the tug for many years, more than a decade, operating it and exploiting its museum-artifact qualities.
He later donated it for preservation, he said.
Earlier this year in October, his attempts to shake it loose from its entrenched position at the bottom of the lake were unsuccessful.
He used his private houseboat to push and nudge the Reiss while Tower Marine personnel pumped out hundreds of gallons of muddy water from the tug’s inner sections, but nothing worked.
However, efforts will continue.
“The plan is to move it to the Red Dock and from there have the interested parties study its restoration possibilities,” he said.
Peterson further noted that the owner lives in the City of Saugatuck, but did not disclose the owner’s identity or why he/she had purchased it.