TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners will cast about for grant funds to design a public fishing pier in what some area anglers consider a mostly fish-free zone.
Commissioners authorized city staff to apply to the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust and other sources for funds to design a 15-foot-wide multi-use pier that projects 550 feet into West Bay. The city wants to locate the pier at the western shore of the Boardman River as phase II of its bayfront redevelopment.
Area fisherman argued the shallow, sandy bottom near the river mouth won’t hold fish in the summer.
“There’s just nothing to fish for there,” said Tim Brendel, captain of the charter fishing boat Dancing Bear.
People can fish for salmon and steelhead in the spring and fall as the fish head up river, but several fishermen said they will have a hard time finding fish in the summer.
“I think we want a fishing pier for kids and grandparents who can go there in the middle of the summer and fish,” said Commissioner Mike Gillman, who voted against the measure. “That area is fairly sterile.”
Gillman proposed the city consider construct a pier at the Open Space or from one of the breakwalls at the Duncan Clinch Marina where the rocks and deep water attract fish year-round.
Mayor Michael Estes disagreed and said the river mouth is an ideal location.
“I can assure you I have caught a ton of fish at the mouth of the Boardman River all seasons of the year,” Estes said.
Commissioner Jim Carruthers said the pier will spread out the city’s waterfront attractions.
“I understand it isn’t a great fishing spot, but I think it is a great place to walk and see a sunset,” Carruthers said.
Deni Scrudato keeps a boat on the river and raised concerns about conflicts between boaters passing through the narrow river mouth, pier anglers and swimmers who already jump from the Grandview Parkway bridge into the river.
“That location is just really, really awful,” Scrudato said. “It’s such huge safety concern.”
The location is more than two blocks from the nearest pedestrian crossing of Grandview Parkway and a city parking lot.
Gillman said the location gives “lip service” to claims the pier will be accessible to those with disabilities.
“I want to know how somebody in a wheelchair is goint to maneuver from wherever ... they park to get down there,” Gillman said.