Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 11, 2014

TCL&P resists coal dock pressure

TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Light & Power board members withstood heavy lobbying and allegations of closed-door maneuvering from influential local groups to place the $2.68 million coal dock property’s future in the hands of the city’s elected representatives.

Utility board members agreed this week to deed the waterfront property on M-22 in Elmwood Township to the city, which will allow city commissioners to ultimately determine its future.

Prior to the vote, rumors swirled that unnamed city officials wanted to gain control of the property to force Rotary Charities to purchase the land from the city and in turn give or lease it to the nonprofit Discovery Center Great Lakes.

Discovery Center supporters, including Doug Luciani, president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, this week extolled utility board members to reject the transfer.

But TCL&P board members didn’t budge.

“They listened to everybody’s comments, but they stuck to their decision,” said Tim Arends, TCL&P’s executive director. “They didn’t cave to the pressure.”

A representative of Rotary Camps & Services, a division of Rotary Charities, also urged the board to reject the transfer as premature.

The Discovery Center is an alliance of water-focused nonprofit agencies who want to use the coal dock property to create a community harbor and adjoining private marina to generate revenue for their activities. The proposed $6 million marina project would comprise the first phase of a roughly $20 million, privately funded proposal to create an educational and recreational destination focused on the Great Lakes and the region’s maritime heritage.

Rotary Camps owns the property the Discovery Center occupies on M-22 adjacent to the coal dock. Nonprofit leaders wanted TCL&P to give the coal dock property to Rotary Camps. The utility could have given away the property as a gift, but the city commission is barred from doing so.

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