Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

March 7, 2014

Downtown boat ramp hits bump

TRAVERSE CITY — A plan to redesign a Boardman River boat launch in Traverse City is temporarily grounded because some local environmentalists weren’t consulted about changes.

City planners put a $340,000 launch on ice after they received a letter from the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. Watershed officials Sarah U’Ren and Tracy Jane Andrews objected after they weren’t consulted about alterations to storm water treatment that city engineers proposed.

“We felt we were partners in this project in particular ... and were a little bit saddened to be left behind on the changes to the project,” Andrews told planners during a meeting this week.

The launch site sits between Grandview Parkway and the Boardman River next to the Murchie Bridge. The proposal includes a repaved parking lot, launch site dredging, and an added floating dock and kayak launch site. State grants are expected to pay for most of the project, but guarantees for that money expire in early 2015 and construction must begin by fall.

City Engineer Tim Lodge warned planners that even a month’s delay could threaten the project because the city still needs to obtain state and federal environmental permits.

City engineering staff eliminated rain gardens and some sections of porous pavement that were designed to naturally filter storm water run-off. Changes were made because of property size constraints, steep slopes, and contamination under the parking lot from old underground storage tanks, Lodge said.

Lodge suggested leaving solid pavement over the contaminated areas to act as a cap and using catch basins and filtering membranes to address storm water.

U’Ren and Andrews in a letter to planners questioned whether contamination truly existed, and if so, said the city should clean rather than cap it. They also alleged city staff fails to consistently maintain catch basins resulting in “no effective water quality treatment.”

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