TRAVERSE CITY — A request to use a former coal dock for a fundraiser likely will end up before the city commission after a short detour through the board of Traverse City Light & Power.
The Maritime Heritage Alliance officials want to use the utility-owned property on West Bay in Elmwood Township for a one-day fundraiser complete with food vendors, live music, and alcohol. Tim Arends, executive director for TCL&P, recommended his board kick the request over to the city when members meet Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. in the Governmental Center.
“This is an example of what happens throughout the year regarding the coal dock ... and it’s a little overly burdensome to manage that property as an electric utility,” Arends said.
Arends expects more requests from event organizers to use the property following recently enacted restrictions and fee increases for use of the Open Space. He said city staff is better equipped to manage the property and his recommendation complies with instructions from Mayor Michael Estes.
The utility no longer has a use for the 2.2 acres of waterfront with a key-shaped, earth-filled pier about a mile north of M-72 in Elmwood Township. Board members agreed the city commission ultimately should decide what happens with the property and they do not want to manage the property.
“It’s a good piece of property and I would like to see people use it in this fashion, but Light & Power shouldn’t be making these decisions or managing these events,” said Pat McGuire, board chairman.
The city charges fees for use of parks and public lands, but the city’s park use policy does not apply to property owned by TCL&P, said Benjamin Marentette, city clerk.
Rod Jones, vice president of the Maritime Heritage Alliance, said if the fees are large they probably won’t hold the event, a fundraiser for programs the Alliance operates for at-risk teenagers.
“We are not looking to make a lot of money off of it,” Jones said. “Our goal is we want the community to be more aware of what we are doing so maybe we can garner some more support. The thought in the community is we are a bunch of old retired guys playing around on boats and it couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Mayor Michael Estes said the proposal raises a whole host of interesting questions for commissioners because the criteria they used to set park use fees — the demands put on city services — doesn’t apply to an event outside the city limits.
“But I agree the city should be managing this property,” Estes said.