Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

July 7, 2013

Editorial: Traverse City must be sure it gets fishing pier right

On paper, it’s a perfect fit. Plans for a 15-foot-wide multi-use pier jutting 550 feet into West Bay just west of the mouth of the Boardman River would continue the city’s bayfront redevelopment.

It would give walkers a way to get onto the bay and a unique view of the city and all that water. It would allow fishermen without boats a place to wet a line and keep their feet dry.

But maybe not. Critics say the proposed public fishing pier is in what some area anglers consider a mostly fish-free zone in the summer. At least one boater worried about conflicts between fishermen on the pier, boaters going in and out of the river and swimmers who already jump from the Grandview Parkway bridge.

And Commissioner Mike Gillman said he doesn’t think the pier will be easily accessible to those with disabilities. The location is more than two blocks from the nearest pedestrian crossing of Grandview Parkway or city parking lot. “I want to know how somebody in a wheelchair is going to maneuver from wherever ... they park to get down there,” Gillman said at a recent city commission meeting.

Those concerns weren’t enough to prevent the commission from authorizing city staff to apply to the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust and other sources for funds for the project. But that can’t be a final say.

Creating a fishing pier was one of the ideas that came through the city’s “Your Bay, Your Say” project back in 2004 in which thousands of area residents pored over a slew of proposals for revamping the bayfront. Just in time for the Cherry Festival, the city opened the refurbished Clinch Park, with a new bathhouse and refreshment stand, splash pads for kids, a large terrace for picnicking and a lot more. An improved boat ramp and the pier were part of the wish list.

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