Monthly Archives: April 2014

White Paper on Water and Michigan’s Economy

blue economy

This report validates the Discovery Center proposal for public use of the former coal dock and is worth reading. Michigan Economic Center Report: Water, Michigan and the Blue Economy (download here). In this new report we define the ‘Blue Economy’ as the way Michigan’s natural water assets, and water education, research and technology innovation creates jobs and contributes to economic growth.  The report is a baseline inventory of Michigan’s blue economy activity and conservatively estimates nearly one million Michigan jobs, and $60 billion in annual economic impact, linked to Michigan’s water assets and water innovation abilities. The report was commissioned by the Governor’s Office of the Great Lakes to inform a developing state water strategy, and as a first step context-setter for the project “Growing Michigan’s Blue Economy”, supported by the C.S. Mott Foundation, designed to  accelerate the growth of  Michigan’s Blue Economy.  I hope you will share this report with others, and are happy to answer questions. For more information go to, or contact me at the number and email below.  John Austin Director, Michigan Economic Center Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution President, Michigan State Board of Education 734.474.3110 @John_C_Austin

Public Meeting on April 21

Meeting Scheduled! The Traverse City City Commission will hear our proposal on Monday, April 21 at 7:00 pm in the Commission Chambers at the Governmental Center. You can find the Board agenda by clicking here.

We are on the agenda during Public Comment as:

Reserved public comment request from Mike Wills, representing Discovery
Center Great Lakes regarding its interest in the Traverse City Light and
Power Coal Dock Property.

No action is expected to be taken; however, there will be an opportunity to make individual publi comment after Mike’s presentation. The presentation will be televised live on Charter Government Channel 191 and available to view on-line  live or later at your convenience.


Editorial: Public must have major say in coal docks future

Click here to view the Record Eagle April 13, 2013 Editorial: Public must have major say in coal docks future.

The Discovery Center’s proposal for a Community Pier, Harbor and Marina is on the City Commission’s April 21 Agenda.

No Negative Impact to TCLP Action at April 8 Board Meeting

Going into tonight’s meeting, the perception and fear was that the property would transfer to the City upon the motion being presented. While the motion passed, what we learned and heard at the meeting is that this was really only a motion to approve the transfer, whereupon the City Commission will initiate a public process to fully investigate all the issues, risks, opportunities and options regarding the Discovery Center Proposal and the property itself. But, no deed will be signed and no transfer made until the City, upon conclusion of the process and careful, thoughtful deliberation, makes a final decision as to the future of the coal dock and then passes a resolution to either accept the transfer of property or dispose of the property in some other manner. Once the two bodies agree, only then will transfer to any entity occur. TCLP will continue to own, maintain and manage the property in the meantime.

Given the repeated assurances during the meeting of Mayor Michael Estes, City Manager Jered Ottenwess, Commissioners Barbara Budros and Jim Carruthers that our proposal would be given fair, open and public consideration, along with statements of personal support for our proposal from them and most of the TCLP board members, I am personally at peace that we can trust them all to give this amazing concept, supported by so many in our community, a fair chance to become reality. It will not happen quickly, nor should it. What we have conceived needs to be understood, supported and accepted by the community at large.

There was great angst, fear and mistrust leading up to tonight’s meeting and I accept responsibility for much of that. There was a lot of time spent and much discussion fueled by this proposed action, which resulted in good discourse amongst all the parties and no adverse action. In the end, it may have galvanized our resolve to do good for the community and an appreciation for the roles we all play.

So, my personal Thank You to the TCLP Board Members and City Commissioners who graciously bore up under the pressure and managed to navigate a delicate situation honorably and respectfully. And a Thank You as well to all the individuals and organizations who spent their valuable time to support this great vision. My enthusiasm for the project and confidence that the good vision we have will become reality is undiminished.

We all want what is best for the community, so let the discussion begin!  Next stop, April 21 presentation to City Commission.

Mike Wills, Chair

TCLP Considers Transfer of Former Coal Dock to City – Tuesday, April 8

On Tuesday, April 8 at 5:30 pm the Traverse City Light & Power Board of Directors will consider two actions with respect to the former coal dock property. To see what’s on the agenda, check out the memo containing proposed actions Declaring Coal Dock Surplus.

First, they will consider declaring the property surplus. This is an action we wholeheartedly support.

Second, they will consider immediately transferring it to the City of Traverse. We vigorously oppose this action for a variety of reasons:

  • It is inconsistent with the discussions and concerns raised at the February 10th Joint Study session between the City and TCLP. At that meeting concerns were raised about the property being consider parkland if the City took title, as well as the consensus that the property would stay with TCLP until the City Manager developed a plan for moving forward.
  • It also limits legal options available to TCLP that are not available to the City. Most notably, once the City takes title they can never transfer title without putting the property up for competitive bid. To see an analysis of the pros and cons of the various actions, check out the Property Flow Chart.
  • It will undermine years of work by the Discovery Center and Rotary Camps & Services to move our proposal forward through an open and thoughtful process.

Please support the Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes in our efforts to move forward in developing a world-class working waterfront at the site of the former coal dock. Contact the TCLP Directors or to email all Board Members at once, send an email to: Better yet, come to the meeting at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, April 8 at the Governmental Center on 400 Boardman Avenue in Traverse City and voice your support for the Discovery Center.