Tag Archives: Rotary Camps and Services

Article in The Ticker on the former coal dock

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.

http://www.traverseticker.com/story/coal-dock-plans-take-shape

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.

arends

Arends

“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.

Sister Facility in Campbell River Vancouver Island, BC

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.

 

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

Rotary’s Thoughts on the Region’s Waterfront

At the February 13th joint study session with Traverse City Light & Power and the City of Traverse City, Marsha Smith of Rotary got up and made a very well-reasoned argument for the process and criteria that the City should use for disposing of surplus property. Her memo in support of her public comments can be found here: Rotary Memo regarding Surplus Property.

She made the following especially compelling argument:

For over 50 years the City of Traverse City has listened to the citizens and worked systematically to open our bay front for public use. This thoughtful and visionary framework has led to a world class waterfront that is accessible to all, regardless of economic status or physical ability. It has been the catalyst for adjoining units of government in Acme and Elmwood Townships to do the same.

Honestly, why would the City choose to reverse that trend now?

USCE DCGL Oblique

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.