Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 23, 2014

Power Island eyed as township park

TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County’s Power Island might not be a county-operated park for long.

County officials proposed a partnership with Peninsula Township officials under which the township would take over operations of the island located in West Grand Traverse Bay.

Whether that’s possible under restrictions in the island’s deed, which dates back to 1975, remains unclear, but county Commissioner Dan Lathrop said he thinks the park could be better served by Peninsula Township, the area of the county he represents.

“We’re hoping the Peninsula could take it on and make the island all it could be,” Lathrop said.

Several officials said the move would amount to a cost-cutting measure for the county.

The county spends about $100,000 a year maintaining Power Island. Officials first eyed cutting some of those costs late last year, when Administrator Dave Benda suggested eliminating the park’s caretaker position amid an effort to reign in a deficit of more than $1 million.

Commissioners later floated the possible partnership with Peninsula Township during budget meetings.

Commissioner Larry Inman said similar ideas arise whenever the county looks to save money.

Whether the idea is feasible largely comes down to cost, Inman said.

“If I was sitting on the township board, I’d say ‘Thanks, Grand Traverse County, but we have our own budget issues. Who’s going to help us pay for this island?’” Inman said.

Township Treasurer David Weatherholt said township board members haven’t yet discussed the proposal. He said some board members likely don’t even know about the idea.

“We don’t know if they’re serious,” Weatherholt said of county commissioners.

The township board’s interest in such an arrangement will depend on the cost and the work necessary to maintain the park, he said.

County commissioners last week assigned the county’s Parks and Recreation board to explore a possible partnership.

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