Tag Archives: MHA

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

How is it fair to ask TCLP/ City to dedicate the former Coal Dock to the public?

The City of Traverse City has been the beneficiary of numerous donations of land or money for City properties, including:

    1. Perry Hannah’s many gifts to the City (e.g. Hannah Park, Oakwood Cemetery, etc.),
    2. Floyd Clinch’s gift of the West Bay waterfront creating Clinch Park,
    3. The work of Dr. James Hall and others to acquire the Open Space,
    4. Efforts of the community to acquire the former Smith-Barney property, etc.

Even the transfer of the TCLP Bayside Plat to the City to be included in the Open Space is a way that the City has benefited. In short, most of the City’s prized open waterfront was acquired through the generosity of the community, not through arm’s length purchases. Because of the City’s efforts and vision, other jurisdictions, such as Acme, have been inspired to acquire bay front property for public access.

Great effort has gone into acquiring private, often commercial water front for public use. With the former coal dock, a unique working waterfront is already in the public domain and can now be made accessible in to the public in unique and exciting ways.

Who profits if the Discovery Pier, Harbor and Marina happens?

No individual or private entity profits. The Discovery Center (a 501 (c) 3 non-profit entity) will be the operator of the Community Pier, Harbor and Marina taking all the financial risks and rewards to sustain the Phase 2 Discovery Center facilities and further its mission and those of its member non-profits. Generating an on-going revenue stream from related business ventures (referred to as a “Social Enterprise”) is an established practice for stabilizing funding for non-profit organization rather than relying solely on fundraising and donations. Conceptually, the market-rate rental slips will cover the non-profit aspects of the Community Harbor and generate about $80,000 a year, after all expenses and debt reduction, toward the operation of the Discovery Center. The State of Michigan will be paid about $25,000 a year for the bottomlands lease and the private property owners will be paid rent in roughly an equivalent amount for the use of their riparian shoreline and sharing their parking. However, they will not participate in any profits.

How do we know that the Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes has the capacity to handle and manage the Community Harbor & Pier?

The Discovery Center itself is a Rotary project: in 2006, Mike Dow donated the property (valued at $1.5 M) for the express purpose of creating a water-related nonprofit place of exploration, learning, and awareness, to Rotary Camps & Services, the land-holding arm of Rotary. The Discovery Center has a framework for managing the property, a sitting Board of Directors, a vision, and a plan for the future as a premier educational, recreational, and cultural attraction. The Community Pier and Harbor project has the full support of the Rotary Club of Traverse City. Rotary Charities has made major investments to insure the success of the Discovery Center. Rotary’s participation in the project lends it the credibility, weight, and experience of the Club’s service to the community for more than 95 years. Rotary is the logical owner and steward of the property, having demonstrated its commitment and success in managing property (over 1800 acres) for the greater public good. Some examples: State Theater, Park Place Hotel, Boy and Girl Scout Camps and large tracts of protected natural areas. Rotary has also incubated and contributed to many other local public projects, including the City’s bay front plan.