The Grand Traverse Bay coal dock is one step closer to opening to the public.
Click below to view the Jan 29, 2016 TV 9&10 news report
Great coverage in The Ticker about plans for the former coal dock. Fred Sitkins is quoted:
“The possibility this presents is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Inland Seas Education Association Executive Director Fred Sitkins says. “Having the opportunity to at times have all three tall ships in that basin is a real attraction.”
We look forward to working with Rotary to develop a plan for this unique community assert.
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.”
Rotary 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.”
The 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.
Rotary 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).
In 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.
Traverse 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.
A new Great Lakes Cruise Ship will begin plying the Great Lakes waters in 2015. The proposed Discovery Community Pier could be the port of call that cruise ships like this need so passengers can conveniently disembark and tour our area.
The Saint Laurent, measuring 286 feet long and with a draft of 13 and half feet, features 105 luxury staterooms, says Great Lakes Cruise Company. Learn more….
It was specially designed for cruising the Great Lakes and can travel at a speed of up to 12 knots.
Amazing and weird to have stumbled on another facility so similar to the proposed Discovery Center Community Pier! A Maritime Heritage Center, public fishing pier (actually named Discovery Pier) and an aquarium. All projects of the local Rotary Club, making much out of surplus and ignored city-owned property. Click here to check out their website and read their story:
From an undistinguished piece of land to a showplace for Campbell River, the Maritime Heritage Centre has had a remarkable evolution.
The Maritime Heritage Centre project began in 1998 when the District of Campbell River (now the City of Campbell River) solicited ideas for potential uses for the land near the Discovery Pier. The land had previously been the site of the old sewage treatment plant, since upgraded and relocated to an area north of town.
The Campbell River Daybreak Rotarians proposed that a maritime heritage type centre be built to showcase the history of the local coastal waters and their links to the community. The City approved the concept and the Rotarians, through a separate society, built the Maritime Heritage Centre. The completed centre was turned over to the City, and the Maritime Heritage Society now operates it.
The transformation of the site rid it of the stigma attached to its prior use.
Building the Maritime Heritage Centre was a Community Service Project of mammoth proportions for the Daybreak Rotary Club, with an impact on Campbell River for years to come. The Centre is not considered a Museum, but rather an activity centre, containing facilities for education, research, exhibitions and social engagements – and most importantly, the reconstruction and housing of the BCP45 fishing seiner that once adorned the back of the Canadian five dollar bill.
This facility is a marvelous example of how a community and government can work together to make a beautiful, useful and functional facility which even today, continues to grow and improve.
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.
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.
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