Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

March 4, 2014

TC: No events at coal dock

TRAVERSE CITY — Commissioners scuttled a request to use the Traverse City coal dock for a fundraiser to benefit sailing programs for at-risk youth.

The request from Maritime Heritage Alliance officials to use the property on West Bay in Elmwood Township created complications commissioners were not ready to address. Traverse City Light & Power owns the 2.2 acres of waterfront with a key-shaped, earth filled pier but has no use for the property. Commissioners will ultimately decide the fate of the land but haven’t yet had a discussion about what to do with it.

“It’s a little premature to start dealing with this kind of function right now,” Commissioner Ross Richardson said. “My concern is we are determining uses for it even before we as a commission have decided what to do.”

Rod Jones, vice president of the Maritime Heritage Alliance, said he understood commissioners’ decision and added it wasn’t his intent to “open up a can of worms.”

Jones said they will hold the June fundraiser on their property on the other side of M-22 across from the coal dock.

The Maritime Heritage Alliance is part of Discovery Center Great Lakes, an alliance of water-focused nonprofit agencies backed by Rotary Charities. Discovery Center officials hope to use the coal dock property to create a community harbor and adjoining private marina. The proposed $6 million marina project would comprise the first phase of a roughly $20 million, privately funded proposal to create an educational and recreational destination focused on the Great Lakes and the region’s maritime heritage.

Discovery Center officials want the city commission to either give them the property or allow them to lease it at little or no cost.

Board members for the city-owned utility don’t want to manage the property about a mile north of M-72 and asked city commissioners to make the decision about the fundraiser.

They also are waiting on direction from commissioners about how to dispose of the property, said City Manager Jered Ottenwess.

Ottenwess has tentatively scheduled a discussion of the coal dock’s future for a March 31 study session.

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