Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 10, 2014

City to discuss future of coal dock

TRAVERSE CITY — Board members for Traverse City Light & Power will look to city commissioners for guidance on how to navigate two politically thorny issues.

The city-owned utility’s board hopes to get a sense of commissioners’ preferences on questions of local power generation and how to dispose of the coal dock property on West Bay in Elmwood Township. The two items will be among a host of utility-related issues the boards will discuss in a joint meeting today at 7 p.m. at the Governmental Center.

“Commissioners have broader policy issues they address all of the time and they also have to deal with the politics,” said Pat McGuire, board chairman for TCL&P. “The Light & Power board has to worry about Light & Power.”

The Discovery Center Great Lakes, an alliance of water-focused nonprofit agencies, brought the coal dock issue to the forefront in December, when its officials approached TCL&P about using the property to help create a regional educational and tourism destination. The property includes 2.2 acres of waterfront with a key-shaped, earth-filled pier about a mile north of M-72 in Elmwood Township.

The utility also owns about 4.6 acres on the west side of M-22 and together the two parcels were appraised at $2.68 million in 2012.

“From Light & Power’s perspective there is no reason for us to continue ownership of that property and it’s kind of a hassle,” McGuire said. “It could be put to better use but we’re not a parks and recreation department.”

Mayor Michael Estes said the discussion won’t focus on the Discovery Center’s proposal but more on how TCL&P disposes of surplus property, including the coal dock.

Officials said there are two main options to address. Keep the property in public ownership of some form or sell it on the open market.

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