Tag Archives: TACS

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.

If TCLP no longer has a need for the coal dock, why not just transfer it to the City and let the City decide what to do with it?

A transfer from TCLP to the City would restrict or limit many legal options (such as leases, use agreements, or transfer to other entities) since the City is bound by more restrictive statutes and charter provisions than a municipal utility. TCLP/City have no plans to use the dock; the Discovery Center plan is well developed and ready to go. This public asset has been sitting unused for a decade already.

What is the difference between the proposed Community Harbor & the Community Marina?


The Community Harbor and Pier will be a public open space created as an attraction to the residents of and visitors to our region. While there will likely be some fee-based activities in the Harbor (charters, boat tours, etc.), the space itself will be free and open to everyone. The Marina will contain private seasonal boat slips. The Community Harbor and Pier will be created on the public property currently owned by TCLP. The Marina will be connected to private property owned by neighboring properties to the south. While integrated into a single project, the private Marina does not utilize the TCLP property.

The City can use the cash; why not just sell the former coal dock to the highest bidder?

Selling the land to the highest bidder would only provide a short-term financial gain. That short-term gain would be insignificant when compared to the long-term value and economic impact to future generations of citizens and visitors that will be realized from an active waterfront providing public access, education, and recreation. The Discovery Community Pier, Harbor and Marina concept is in keeping with the City’s efforts to reclaim industrial waterfront for public use.

Additionally, is a massive private development on the dock preferable to opening an existing public asset to public use forever?

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)