Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 10, 2013

TC coal dock decision looms

TRAVERSE CITY — Discussions are heating up over the future of Traverse City's old coal dock, and varying interests are trying to stake a claim in the bayfront property.

The coal dock comprises 2.2 acres of waterfront, including an earth-filled, key-shaped pier adjacent to Elmwood Township's bayfront park and marina properties.

It's a rare deep water port in West Grand Traverse Bay and sits mostly unused by its owner, Traverse City Light & Power. A locked gate bars public access.

Light & Power and the Traverse City officials both expect to discuss the property's future before year's end, officials said.

"There's a lot of interest from a lot of different people to use it," said Tim Arends, Light & Power's executive director. "It's like the Open Space and it has an amazing view of the bay and the city and it would be great if we could allow the public to use it."

Traverse City purchased the property in 1968 for $240,000. That bayfront land and 10 acres across M-22 recently were appraised at $2.4 million. The land once was used to unload and store coal, and utility officials mulled possible uses, but now are likely to unload it.

Arends said he can't foresee Light & Power having a long-term use for the property. He's trying to arrange a joint meeting between his board and the city commission to discuss what to do with it.

Jim Carruthers, a city commissioner who also sits on the utility board, said the property should be transferred back to the city if Light & Power has no use for it.

Mayor Michael Estes agrees, calling the future of the coal dock a "policy decision" that belongs with the city commission. Estes said a sale of the property isn't out of the question.

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