Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 17, 2013

Old Mission launch site possible

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Two failed residential developments on Old Mission Peninsula could be transformed into public parkland, including one site that would feature boating access to East Grand Traverse Bay.

Peninsula Township officials this month agreed to apply to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources fund to purchase 59 acres adjacent to the township’s Bowers Harbor Park. It also gave local support to a DNR application to purchase 7 acres on Old Mission Bay for a boat launch, which many believe is a sorely needed local amenity.

“This is a great opportunity to create access to the water that we really don’t have on East Bay,” said Ryan Matuzak, a board member for the Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Association.

Two developed boat launches are situated along East Grand Traverse Bay, one in Elk Rapids and the other a small, state-owned launch on Center Road on the southern end of Old Mission Peninsula. The latter site has limited parking and creates summer traffic problems owed to parked vehicles and trailers along Center Road.

“That thing just gets totally jammed, and a lot of people would happily drive farther up the peninsula,” Matuzak said.

The proposed launch site on Mission Road sits about 500 feet south of the township’s Haserot Beach. Known as the Old Mooring Place, the site contains 10 would-be home lots and has an interior road system, buried utilities, and a private sewer system, said Rob Manigold, Peninsula Township supervisor. No homes were built there.

“With 7 acres, there will be a ton of parking and the local residents up there are all in favor of it,” Manigold said.

The township tried to acquire the property in 2010, but needed the owners to donate 25 percent of the property’s estimated $2 million value to the township to cover a DNR trust fund-required 25 percent local match.

The DNR now agreed to cover the match and pay for improvements, and township officials will handle routine maintenance such as mowing and trash collection, Manigold said.

The township’s own state grant application would allow officials to expand the other park site -- Bowers Harbor Park -- south to Devils Dive Road by acquiring the proposed Orchards housing development for $800,000.

The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy pledged to help raise half the local match, leaving the township responsible for about $100,000, Manigold said.

The site has some minor residual agricultural contamination from pesticide and herbicide use, Manigold said. An anonymous donor gave the conservancy $10,000 for an environmental assessment to determine the extent of the contamination. Manigold said the township will withdraw the grant application if it turns out it’s too expensive to clean up contamination.

The township likely will learn the outcome of their proposal by fall.