Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Monday

June 2, 2014

Environmental group faces questions about marina support

TRAVERSE CITY — Continued opposition to a city beach project raised questions about the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay’s involvement in a proposed marina project in Elmwood Township, an effort that would financially benefit the nonprofit organization.

The Watershed Center is part of the Discovery Center Great Lakes, an alliance of water-focused nonprofit agencies sited on M-22 in Elmwood Township, and across from the city’s earthen, key-shaped pier known as the coal dock. Discovery Center officials want the city commission to give them the coal dock property to create a community harbor and adjoining private marina.

Marina revenue would help expand the shared Discovery Center facilities. But the harbor project also would include dredging of Great Lakes bottomlands, and development plans provided to the Record-Eagle show significant alteration to about 300 feet of natural shoreline.

“It seems inconsistent,” said city Commissioner Barbara Budros, when comparing the marina project to Watershed Center officials vigorous and rigid opposition to grooming or mowing at the city’s Slabtown Beach.

John Nelson, Baykeeper for the Watershed Center, said it’s not at all inconsistent. He said Watershed officials always oppose beach grooming and mowing on Grand Traverse Bay, as well as the creation of new marinas.

“But we have been supportive of the expansion of existing marinas,” Nelson said. “This would be an expansion.”

Christine Crissman, Watershed Center executive director, said marina plans are not set, so it’s difficult to comment on them. Once complete, they will review plans for consistency with their position on other marina projects.

“We will not move forward with anything that we are not comfortable with,” Crissman said.

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