The City of Traverse City has been the beneficiary of numerous donations of land or money for City properties, including:
Perry Hannah’s many gifts to the City (e.g. Hannah Park, Oakwood Cemetery, etc.),
Floyd Clinch’s gift of the West Bay waterfront creating Clinch Park,
The work of Dr. James Hall and others to acquire the Open Space,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
To learn more about the potential uses of the Community Harbor click on this 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.
PHASE 1- Community Pier, Harbor and Marina
Proposed Community Pier, Harbor and Marina (Phase 1) and Proposed Discovery Center Campus (Phase 2)