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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.

Wouldn’t Elmwood Township be the major beneficiary of the Community Pier, Harbor & Marina?

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.

Why would some think tranferring the pier to an indepentdent enity would be giving away a valuable public asset?

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.

Shouldn’t the Pier be kept in the public domain as the area’s only deep-water port for loading and unloading cargo in the future?

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.

Community Pier is Best Dedicated to an Independent Entity

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

Discovery Center Brings Proposal to TC Light & Power

On December 10, 2013 the Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes brought an exciting proposal to the Traverse City Light & Power Board. This proposal has huge potential economic, recreational, educational and cultural benefits to the residents and visitors of our region as an ACTIVE working waterfront with offerings such as:

  • Major waterfront attraction – economic driver
  • Port of call for cruise ships and excursion boats
  • Public Fishing Pier
  • Base for Fishing Charter fleet
  • Base for Tall Ship fleet
  • Water Taxi to Power Island and Clinch Park
  • Scuba Diving Charters
  • TACS High School Sailing Team practice base
  • Bareboat Sailing Charters and Sailing School
  • Access to boating through rentals, charters, memberships
  • Pedestrian access point to the water
  • Environmental and scientific learning opportunities
  • Recreational activities for all ages and capabilities
  • Maritime history education
  • Community events like regattas, fishing derbies and Kid’s Free Fishing Day
  • Expanded Discovery Center Member Non-Profit Programs and offerings
              • Maritime Heritage Alliance
            • Watershed Center-Grand Traverse Bay
            • Great Lakes Children’s Museum
            • Traverse Area Community Sailing
  • 118 Market Rate Rental slips that generates the revenue to support all this

Click here to view the full presentation on YouTube (starts about 16 minutes into the video).

Click Here to read the full Proposal for a Community Pier, Harbor and Marina.

To learn more about the potential uses of the Community Harbor click on this infographic:

Discovery Harbor Infographic

Proposed Community Pier and Public Access Hub

Note that we are the first to admit that parking on the dock is not desirable or highest and best use, but it allows this project to proceed until safe methods of getting users across the busy highway to remote parking are in place. Once that happens, parking can be removed from the dock in favor of activity space.

Harbor & Marina

PHASE 1- Community Pier, Harbor and Marina

Proposed Community Pier, Harbor and Marina (Phase 1) and Proposed Discovery Center Campus (Phase 2)

Proposed Community Pier, Harbor and Marina (Phase 1) and Proposed Discovery Center Campus (Phase 2)