Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 18, 2012

Commissioners to vote on park plans

TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners could keep the ball rolling on the city's bayfront revitalization plans.

Crews in September broke ground on the first steps in a long-discussed plan to spruce up city land along West Grand Traverse Bay. Commissioners on Monday are expected to authorize a contract for what's being dubbed "Phase 2" of the project.

Phase 2 primarily consists of a building that will house a concessions stand, bathrooms and a changing area. Commissioners could authorize a roughly $650,000 bid from Hallmark Construction for the project. The goal is to have that building completed in June along with the $1.4 million worth of improvements already under way.

"After a long time of planning and discussion and public debate, it's gratifying to see some physical changes happening," City Planner Russ Soyring said. "We're trying to build a very high-quality space here, and I think it's going to be something people will want to spend some time at instead of just passing through."

Initial bids collected for Phase 2 came in about $150,000 more than what the city had available to spend. The city revised its plans to include less decorative steel along the roof of the new building, and the new bids are within budget.

Construction already under way includes a natural play area, a "splash pad" water play area, handicap-accessible canoe and kayak launch, terraced landscaping and other features.

City Commissioner Jim Carruthers said he expects the commission to sign off on Phase 2 Monday. The project has seen a few delays, and he's eager to press on and get it open to the public.

"Let's just get it done," he said. "We need to move forward."

The city's Downtown Development Authority on Friday also agreed to pay about $390,000 for significant improvements to the pedestrian tunnel under Grandview Parkway near Clinch park. Lighting and entryways would be upgraded, and snow melting devices would be installed to allow the tunnel to be open year-round. That project still needs to be put out for bids.

The bayfront revitalization project hasn't been without controversy. Some locals were riled up when they found out the revamp would displace a miniature train that chugged around Clinch Park for decades.

Train supporters packed several meetings, but commissioners ultimately decided to remove the train to make room for the improvements.

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