Category Archives: Partner Collaborations

Maritime Heritage Alliance Boat Auction

MHA_ShipLogo31st Annual Boat Auction
& Nautical Garage Sale
Saturday, June 3rd at 9 am

13268 S West Bay Shore Drive
9 am viewing; 11 am auction.

Ongoing garage sale of nautical items.

Ron Bancroft Auctioneer of donated watercraft to benefit Maritime Heritage Alliance programs of preservation & team building/sailing for at-risk youth. Auction boats: Rebel sailboat, jet skis, kayaks, canoes, SeaRay, Rinker & more.

View boats online

Inland Seas’ Utopia Covered by 9&10

9&10 News describe Inland Seas exiting new plans for the Utopia in 2017:

The ship will offer a variety of hands-on learning experiences and will be docking at Traverse City’s soon-to-be Discovery Pier so Fred says people of all age groups can learn from the ship first hand, “So Utopia is going to be docked at the newly formed Discovery Pier in Traverse City and this is a publicly accessible tall ship harbor so the ability to add a new tall ship to the harbor in Traverse City is really exciting for us.”

For complete story, click here.

Schooner Utopia arrives at Discovery Pier

At  17:45 on Thursday, September 29, 2016 the Utopia finished its journey from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It landed on its new berth at the Discovery Pier. Ellsworth Peterson generously donated his famed 65-foot schooner, Utopia, to the Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA).

The Schooner’s Remarkable History

UtopiaThe staysail schooner was designed by the late Fred J. Peterson. It was built in 1946 by Peterson Builders and began its maiden sea voyage in 1947 when she cruised the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and Caribbean Islands. In November 1956, Fred Peterson and crew embarked on an epic three-year  cruise around the world. They stopped at ports in the Azores, Tangiers, Gibraltar, Canary Islands, Trinidad, Havana, Tonga, Galagapos, the Solomons, New Guinea and dozens more. It is estimated Utopia has logged more than 60,000 miles, including several Chicago-Mackinac races. In recent decades, Utopia has been owned and skippered by Ellsworth Peterson. He has been a goodwill ambassador in Door County, Wisconsin and elsewhere, hosting numerous non-profit events and receptions.

Fred Sitkins, Executive Director of ISEA, said of the schooner, “We are thankful for the story of Utopia and the Peterson family and will work hard to ensure that this story is told to as many people as possible.”

Utopia’s Future

While specific plans for Utopia are still to be determined after Coast Guard inspection, ISEA plans to use her at the Discovery Pier next summer. A grant secured from the Worthington Foundation will allow Inland Seas to purchase a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and develop an underwater course for school groups and the public beginning in 2017. This program will be run from Utopia.


Rotary Charities Grants $1M to Buy Coal Properties

A Wonderful Opportunity for the Discovery Center!

Rotary announced that an offer has been made to acquire the former coal properties on West Bay from Traverse City Light and Power (TCLP) for public use and community benefit. Rotary Charities of Traverse City, will fund the purchase with a $1,000,000 grant. The properties will be transferred to Rotary Camps & Services, which owns the Discovery Center, which has committed another $500K for improvements to the properties. “The initial focus for the property will be the conversion of the former coal dock to another open space for the community with universal access to West Bay,” says Rotary Camps & Services Chairperson, John Hall.

Scope of the Purchase Offer

The purchase offer includes the deepwater port, former coal dock, inner harbor, and the land along M-22, as well as the former coal storage lot across the road. When combined with the attractions and activities currently available at the Discovery Center and Greilickville Harbor Park, these parcels will provide the opportunity for a Great Lakes waterfront. Mike Wills, President of the Discovery Center Board , said “By blurring the property lines between the Discovery Center, the coal properties, and Elmwood Township’s park, marina and property on the west side of M-22 we have the opportunity to create a world-class waterfront for our community.”

john_baykeeperRotary Camps & Services will place use restrictions on the coal properties similar to those on the Discovery Center to ensure public access and extend our mission: securing a permanent home for tall ships, maritime history education, recreation, and freshwater education. The project is in keeping with Elmwood Township’s plan for a marina district, including extending public access to the waterfront, updating existing docks and preserving the deep-water port.



“We are happy to have a community discussion about the future of this valuable city asset,” said Timothy Arends, Executive Director of TCLP. “This seems like a promising opportunity to create more space for the public to enjoy along our waterfront.” The Discovery Center is eager to present our vision for the former coal dock to the community and to engage in that discussion. After seven years of working to ensure this unique asset remains available for community use and benefit, we’re thrilled to finally see it happening” says Rotary Charities Chairperson, Gregg Smith. “By opening the property to the public for the first time in many years, a formerly industrial property has the potential to become an integral part of an increasingly vibrant and public waterfront.”

ManitouThe former coal dock is currently the home to Traverse City’s tall ships, including the Madeline and the Manitou. If the offer is accepted, it will help ensure that Traverse City remains a place where you can enjoy the scenic splendor of a schooner plying the waters of West Bay. These iconic boats have become emblematic of Traverse City and our love for our maritime heritage. The Maritime Heritage Alliance and Traverse Tall Ship Company will have a secure home.

During the 20th century, the coal dock served an important role in our community’s industrial past. (See Pictorial History of Former Coal Dock.) In the 21st century, it can serve an important role in enhancing the the special sense of place that he;ps make Traverse City such a unique and appealing spot.

The transaction is subject to approval by the TCLP Board and City Commission, which will consider the transaction at a special joint study session on September 28.

Key Players

CharitiesRotary Charities has assets of over $48 million, which has allowed it to invest over $54 million in over 1,100 grants to the five-county Grand Traverse region since 1977, including over $1.5 million to the City of Traverse City. Other $1 million grants made by Rotary Charities include NMC’s University Center (1994), the State Theatre Project (1997), and the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute (2004).

CampsIn addition to the Discovery Center, Rotary Camps & Services owns over 1,700 acres in Grand Traverse County, which includes Camp Greilick, the regional Boy Scout camp, and Camp Sakakawea, the regional Girl Scout camp. It also owns East Creek Reserve in Garfield Township, with a network of public trails. Camps & Services also served as an incubator for start-ups, such as the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, HomeStretch and NorthSky Nonprofit Network.

TCLP LogoTraverse City Light & Power is a community-owned, community focused municipal utility that offers reliable energy at low cost rates in the region to over 12,500 customers in Traverse City, and parts of Blair, East Bay, Elmwood, Garfield, Peninsula and Paradise townships.

Inland Seas Joins Discovery Center

The IPic 1nland Seas Education Association is proud to announce they have joined the Discovery Center-Great Lakes as an affiliate off-campus Partner. The mission of the Discover Center-Great Lakes is a direct correlation to the Inland Seas mission of inspiring Great Lakes curiosity, stewardship, and passion in people of all ages. It just makes sense that we work together collaboratively to impact the greatest numbers of individuals with our important work.

Inland Seas is lookiPic 2ng forward to working with all of the partner organizations within the Discovery Center Great Lakes campus. The solutions our Great Lakes need are multi faceted and will be discovered when organizations like those belonging to the Discovery Center-Great Lakes are doing their best work. Inland Seas believes effective collaboration will allow all organizations to do their best work.

Let’s Go Sailing Exhibit Opens at Great Lakes Children’s Museum

Today, the Great Lakes Children’s Museum opened a new exhibit entitled “Let’s Go Sailing” on the Discovery Center campus. The exhibit features a table with built-in fans to propel model “boats” that can actually sail upwind!  The boats are “printed” with a 3D printer, courtesy of Alpha 3D Professional, and fitted with 4 wheels that allow them to “track” on the table to demonstrate the lift created by the wind across the sail. Quantum Sails of Traverse City contributed to the exhibit by helping to design the boat. A video loop on a wall-mounted flat screen TV shows a continual loop of video clips of sailing action provided by Traverse Area Community Sailing (TACS), another of the Discovery Center partner organizations that provides sailing instruction for area youth of all ages.

Discovery Center Refines Its Waterfront Plan

We continue to work to ensure that we have fulfilled our responsibilities for both the economic and environmental due diligence associated with our proposed project. As a result, we are scaling back our original vision for a Community Harbor and Marina and are focusing just the Community Harbor and Pier, for now. All of our current efforts will be toward developing the best plan that we can for the area shaded blue below (the Community Harbor). The Community Marina is no longer a focus of our current plan.

Harbor & Marina

There is a unanimous sentiment among all of the Discovery Center partners that preserving the former coal dock for our community’s tall ships must be a paramount goal. None of us can imagine our region without the glorious sight of the gaff-rigged schooners plying the waters of West Bay throughout the summer. After 25 years, the tall ships have become integrated into our community’s unique identity.

Aerial photo of DCGLWe are developing a phased approach as we re-envision all of the opportunities for a regional waterfront attraction created from the former coal dock, including a safe harbor for the tall ships, a deep water port and access to West Bay fisheries, and general access to West Bay for our community’s residents and visitors alike. This phased approach will allow us to better focus our effort on working out a mutually agreeable arrangement with the City of Traverse for the use of the former coal dock to preserve existing and create new recreational and educational activities that will benefit Traverse City and the region. It will also make future development of the project more manageable.

Slide36Our vision and goals have always been to achieve the maximum community benefit for everyone involved. Converting our community’s former industrial waterfront into a public attraction will have a powerful impact for years to come. We will continue to work our environmental and economic due diligence to help make sure that this project will happen successfully and be sustainable in the long run. Please support our efforts.




Designs Released!

John Dancer, with Cornerstone Architects, has released several beautiful renderings of the design for the future facility for Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes.

These designs are the result of a year-long planning process, during which we gathered information from the four partner organizations of Discovery Center, as well individuals, community leaders, and educators in our area. The facility will serve the needs, for both space and programming, of the Discovery Center organizations and the local community, while integrating the surrounding natural resources.

This modern, energy-efficient facility will enable Discovery Center to become a preeminent educational center that facilitates understanding and stewardship of the Great Lakes for residents of and visitors to our community, a vibrant center where non-profit organizations dedicated to water-related issues can come together and share resources.

Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes is becoming one of the area’s leading cultural, educational, recreational attractions.

Your comments are welcome! Please visit the page of Design Graphics and let us know what you think.

The graphics are also available as high-resolution PDFs.

Master Facilities Site Plan Announced

We are pleased to announce the Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes Master Facilities Plan!

Through a year-long planning process, we gathered information from the organizations and people currently involved with Discovery Center, as well individuals, community leaders, and educators in our area. This information was then carefully collected, considered, and used by Cornerstone Architects and the Project Team to inform the design of a Master Facilities Plan. The plan was created to best serve the needs, for both space and programming, of the Discovery Center organizations and the local community, while integrating the surrounding natural resources.

We believe the Master Facilities Plan outlines a design for a vibrant facility that will serve the community for years to come. Please visit the Master Facilities Plan page for more information on this process, and to see the plan.




Community Needs Assessment

Input from the Discovery Center partner organizations was collected during a planning summit on October 4, 2011, with 30 participants from all four partner organizations in attendance. Following that, five focus groups were held in November 2011 and February 2012. One of the focus groups was exclusively for educators from area public, independent, and charter schools. Fifty-eight individuals participated in the focus groups, which were held in the Activity Room at the Great Lakes Children’s Museum. The sessions were facilitated by a consultant from NorthSky Nonprofit Network, with the project architect from Cornerstone Architects in attendance (leadership from the four partner organizations did not participate in or observe the focus groups).

An online community survey was created from the compilation of ideas generated in the five focus groups. The survey was launched in January 2012, promoted vigorously, and kept live for five weeks. The results of the member summit, focus groups, and community survey are all aggregated in the attached report.

April 2012 Community Needs Assessment – Final Report – With Appendices

Everyone who participated in a focus group was given two free passes to the Great Lakes Children’s Museum. One person from each focus group was also selected to receive a tour on the Bay Monitor tug from the Watershed Center’s Bay Keeper. After the online survey was closed, six people who participated in either a focus group or completed the online survey were randomly selected to receive a complimentary cruise on the Maritime Heritage Alliance’s schooner Madeline.

Bay Monitor

Schooner Madeline