Our economy is regional; it does not respect jurisdictional boundaries. Restaurants, hotels, and retailers in downtown Traverse City gain with every dollar spent in the region. Citizens of Traverse City will benefit from increased economic activity generated by greater public access and water related pursuits. Visitors and Citizens of Traverse City and the entire Northwest Region already use the fabulous new Greilickville Harbor Park and will no doubt make use of the Community Pier and Harbor.
While owned by the City, TCLP serves customers in Elmwood Township and several other jurisdictions in the area, not just the City. Converting this former industrial property to a greater public use will benefit the entire region, not just Elmwood Township.
A transfer from TCLP to the City would restrict or limit many legal options (such as leases, use agreements, or transfer to other entities) since the City is bound by more restrictive statutes and charter provisions than a municipal utility. TCLP/City have no plans to use the dock; the Discovery Center plan is well developed and ready to go. This public asset has been sitting unused for a decade already.
By dedicating the dock as a Community Pier and Harbor, the property will not be given away; it will simply be transferred to an independent entity which will be responsible for managing it in a manner that will dramatically increase the value of this property for the community by providing public access to an asset already publicly owned. The true measure of the value of this public asset is its benefit to the community and its impact on the greater good for our region. It is not necessary that TCLP or the City own the property for it to serve the public. Another entity can hold and manage the property.
The Community Harbor and Pier will be a public open space created as an attraction to the residents of and visitors to our region. While there will likely be some fee-based activities in the Harbor (charters, boat tours, etc.), the space itself will be free and open to everyone. The Marina will contain private seasonal boat slips. The Community Harbor and Pier will be created on the public property currently owned by TCLP. The Marina will be connected to private property owned by neighboring properties to the south. While integrated into a single project, the private Marina does not utilize the TCLP property.
The Community Pier, Harbor & Marina proposal will preserve the ability for the dock to serve as a deep-water port, while providing beneficial use to the public. Covenants or deed restrictions protecting that option can be attached to the property. Selling the dock to a private for-profit entity would not preserve the use of the Pier as a deep-water port.
Selling the land to the highest bidder would only provide a short-term financial gain. That short-term gain would be insignificant when compared to the long-term value and economic impact to future generations of citizens and visitors that will be realized from an active waterfront providing public access, education, and recreation. The Discovery Community Pier, Harbor and Marina concept is in keeping with the City’s efforts to reclaim industrial waterfront for public use.
Additionally, is a massive private development on the dock preferable to opening an existing public asset to public use forever?
We believe the proposed “Discovery Community Pier, Harbor and Marina” is best dedicated to an independent entity (such as Rotary Camps and Services) for the following reasons:
o Active, working, public waterfronts becoming exceedingly rare, but very important economic drivers
o Needs for waterfront facilities and public access are continually increasing
o Logistical and operational control is necessary in order to manage all the organizations, activities and programming (It is not practical to be going to another body for constant approvals)
o Eliminates liability for TCLP and City
o Saves TCLP and City money by eliminating operating costs and potential future financial risk
o Preserves use of deep-water port through covenants or deed restrictions
We are the first to admit this is NOT ideal, nor the highest and best use of the dock. But, in the short term, it makes this project feasible and without it, not. Once pedestrians have a way to safely get across the highway (think medians with safe at-grade crossings, bridges, tunnels, shuttles, trams, trolleys) to remote parking lots, we can move parking off the dock. Those solutions will take time and money, but when they are in place, parking can be moved off the dock to free up activity space. In the meantime, there is room around the perimeter for fishing, picnicking, strolling and interpretive displays.
Meeting Delayed! The meeting scheduled for Monday, January 13 at 7 has been postponed. A joint study session of the Traverse City Light & Power Board and the City Commission will occur in the future. Details will provided as the meeting is rescheduled.