Proposed Marina Sites Are The Focus Of Douglas City Officials
Point Pleasant Marina is now looking like a more serious contender in the City of Douglas’ endeavor to acquire a marina and make it public, following Tuesday’s presentation by Edgewater Resources engineer Greg Weykamp.
Presented with pros and cons and possible State of Michigan grants, Douglas City Council was “overwhelmed” with the information and the choice it will perhaps soon have to make, lest opportunities slip away.
Weykamp gave city officials three options to mull over: public acquisition of Tower Marine marina; public acquisition of Point Pleasant Marina; or the construction of a new marina at Wade’s Bayou, a floating marina with transient slips.
The last two are the most viable at this time, but present a conundrum to city officials.
Wade’s Bayou is already part of public property and Point Pleasant Marina, located at 201 Washington just east of Blue Star Highway Bridge, has been on the market for $1.3 million for a year now.
Both locations offer the possibility to go after grants to offset costs and both options are comparable in price, specifically as it regards the first phase of the proposal at Wade’s Bayou, a $1.2 million estimated cost that includes 24 slips, the required dredging, utilities and bathrooms.
“It just seems exorbitant,” said Douglas City Council Member Lisa Greenwood, referring to the cost of the Wade’s Bayou proposal.
To which Weykamp said, “Keep in mind you have a lot of dredging to do. It (costs) also includes construction of a CDF (Contained Disposal Facility) for the marina as well as overall harbor dredging.
“I can’t exclude these things if we are going to make a fair comparison (between the $1.3 million, 14-slip Point Pleasant and the $1.2 million, 24-slip Wade’s Bayou).”
Wade’s Bayou location has easily the best connection to downtown and has the most potential for expansion, up to 50 slips, but it does come with a higher initial cost for dredging and is a more complicated start-up operation, said Weykamp in his presentation.
Point Pleasant presents a chance to purchase private property for a public benefit and it is a viable, on-going operation, but only comes with 14 slips, presents the least expansion potential and does require infrastructure improvements.
The city doesn’t currently have a public marina, a coveted feature because, as city officials claim, it will provide transient, enhanced public access to the waterfront and present an economic boost, as boaters will be attracted by a place to dock and have a downtown nearby to shop and dine.
“We may not get this opportunity (to purchase Point Pleasant Marina) for another 30 years,” said Greenwood, concerned about possible developers coming in to build for private interests.
“We missed out on an opportunity with the Swing Bridge,” she said, referring to that development project.
Weykamp agreed, and said, “You are getting a piece of land for the public—that is a driving factor.”
Weykamp said he will get in touch with Point Pleasant owners to see if they would be willing to wait for the city until at least next June while the city applies for a grant. Council said it will further discuss the matter at its next council workshop.
“I found the (Edgewater Resources) presentation very informative, very overwhelming,” noted Douglas City Mayor Pro-Tem Greg Harvath. “It’s speculative,” Harvath added, noting he is concerned about future contingencies, (i.e., low waters that would entail more dredging.)
Tower Marine owner R.J. Peterson said Douglas officials are barking up the wrong tree if they think they will be getting any grant money from the State of Michigan Waterway Commission for the Wade’s Bayou or the Point Pleasant proposed marina projects.
“I’m on the Waterways Commission’s Finance Committee. I’m not speaking for the commission, but I do know who and what they provide funding for and these two (locally proposed) projects don’t meet the criteria.
“I’m telling you they won’t get a nickel,” added Peterson. “There would be no justification for a (state) grant. And anyone on city council, including (City Manager) Bill LeFevere, doesn’t have the foggiest idea what they are talking about if they think they will qualify for state grants.”
Additionally, Peterson predicted the Wade’s Bayou and Point Pleasant proposed marina projects “would be financial losers. Anyone familiar with marinas would tell them that.”
Peterson noted that he has offered to talk with Douglas officials about a public/private marina plan involving his Tower Marine, by city officials have repeatedly thwarted those efforts.
Douglas officials have often countered that statement, saying Peterson has never negotiated in good faith or provided needed financial records to move the idea forward.
Peterson said Douglas officials are also ignoring a plan that was introduced in 2005 to deal with the public marina issue that was shared with the city, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and others, “but all that planning went by the wayside.
“Ask Douglas officials what happened with all that information.”
Peterson said the reality that Douglas officials don’t want to address is that Tower Marine is already serving the needs of visiting boaters and additional, unneeded marinas locally would be a gigantic waste of taxpayers’ money.
“All Douglas needs is about 12 to 20 dinghy docks and that won’t cost more than $50,000 and there would be no dredging needed,” he said.
“Everything they are doing now about operating their own marina at Wade’s Bayou or Point Pleasant just doesn’t make sense.
“Ask those Douglas officials why they never had a council workshop to discuss the harbor and marina issues, but they can find 45 minutes to talk about a root beer barrel!
“Also ask them what’s wrong with having a public/private marina venture with the existing Tower Marine, which is already here serving all boaters to this area.
“None of this makes any sense if anyone looks into all of this!”