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June 18, 2019 5:41 pm

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Tower Marine Owner RJ Peterson Offers To Negotiate Sale Of Marina With City Of Saugatuck

      The most prominent marina owner in the area is now attempting to sell his marina, for the first time, to the City of Saugatuck and not, as he has tried on many occasions in the past, to the City of Douglas.
        “I think there are some folks in Saugatuck getting a little anxious about preserving the marina for the public,” R.J. Peterson told The Local Observer on Tuesday.
        “The buyer—whoever that may be—would take ownership; we would retain management of it,” Peterson added.
        The marina owner regards public ownership of the marina as an integral component of fixing and enhancing the Kalamazoo Harbor— the river contains low-level contaminants (levels of arsenic and PCBs) and a lot of silt are deposited in its waters coming from upriver.
        The news of the marina offering came to Saugatuck City Council in the form of a January 12, 2017 letter from Tower Marine, signed by Matt Peterson and R.J. Peterson, and was made part of Monday night’s agenda packet.
        “This letter will serve as a formal expression of interest on our part for the City of Saugatuck to explore the means by which the ownership of Tower Marine’s waterfront properties in Douglas could be transferred to the City of Saugatuck,” reads the letter addressed to Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier.
        “I recommend that we pursue this matter in the near future, with, perhaps, a feasibility conference to explore the following: legal matters, timeline planning, financial considerations, marina and property management, as well as any other matters you feel are appropriate,” the letter from the Petersons stated, in part.
        Saugatuck City Council members had little to say about the topic Monday night, but did mention they may discuss the matter at a future council workshop.
        It is not, Harrier noted, unusual for a municipality to own property outside of its city boundaries.
        Examples include the old airport property on 63rd Street which is within Saugatuck Township, but owned by the City of Saugatuck. Another is the old Miro golf course land that was in Saugatuck Township, but was annexed by the City of Douglas when it purchased the 16-acre property.
        Both Douglas city officials and Tower Marine owner Peterson deem discussions of having Douglas purchase ownership of the marina so as to make it a public entity as having reached a seemingly insurmountable impasse.
        The parties blame each other for that lack of progress, accusing one another of not acting in good faith and not being communicative.
        Peterson continues to contend the offer has always been on the table while Douglas officials have refused to meet with him in earnest.
        Douglas officials say Peterson is inconsistent and has not advanced a formal deal with all conditions laid out.      
        Douglas sued Peterson in 2015 over his dredge spoils facility at the marina, contending lack of permit and zoning violations. That legal matter is still pending.
        “We do want to identify  any of a number of entities who could own it—Saugatuck, Douglas, Allegan County, it could even be the State of Michigan or it could become a federal park,” said Peterson.
        But as of right now, no one has come forward,” Peterson told The Local Observer.

Tower Marine Owner RJ Peterson Offers To Negotiate Sale Of Marina With City Of Saugatuck

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