Dredging: Currently out for bids. The bid opening is October 8, 2013. We are anticipating awarding the bid shortly thereafter and possibly commence work yet this fall.
Current Marina Renovation: Permits have been received, we will be submitting final plans and specs for the bidding to the MDNR (grant funding agency) for their review and approval. The project will be bid this winter and construction is anticipated to start in the spring.
Proposed Expansion: Plans are 90% complete for submission of a joint DEQ and USACE permit application. The City Commission reviewed the plans at their September 24, 2013 meeting and voted to move forward with the submittal of a joint application.
Marina Expansion …the last 10 years.
Many residents and visitors inquire each year as to what is happening with the marina and are the plans for expansion in the future.
The City has had discussions regarding the future of the marina, maintenance and expansion discussions for many years. In 2003 the City hired an engineering firm to delve into the matter a little deeper with first a wave climate study to better understand the conditions we are dealing with at this end of the lake.
Also in 2003 the same firm, after many meetings with the public, interest groups, various city boards and the City Commission, they provided the City with a draft master plan in 2003 and a Final Master Plan in 2005. Abonmarche evaluated the existing and potential demand for boating facilities on Lake Charlevoix relative to existing and planned marinas and boat launching facilities. In addition to an existing private marina south of the City, and a possible new marina development south of the City's boat launch. The emphasis of their study is on the availability of facilities to accommodate boaters who would visit the City if adequate facilities were available. The Abonmarche group inventoried existing and known, planned marinas within Lake Charlevoix and interviewed owners to gather data on slip sizes, amenities, occupancy rates, waiting lists, and planned improvements. Abonmarche also interviewed Harbor Masters at nearby Lake Michigan municipal marinas to determine destination patterns of visiting boaters as well as destination preferences. Finally, Abonmarche reviewed the past three years of operating data for the marina to determine the overall financial performance of the facility and have helped determine whether future improvements are economically viable. They used their experience with the other Michigan public marinas to review and evaluate the marina's performance to suggest improvements. The master plan included several options using a rubble mound breakwall system. After further discussions and public input, an additional plan was introduced by the community and discussions for a floating breakwall option. The floating breakwall was thought to be more advantageous and desirable, both financially and esthetically. The City Commission requested that the wave attenuator (floating break-wall) option be added for further studies by Abonmarche.
In 2007 a formal joint permit application was submitted using proposed Marina Plan “M”. After many DEQ meetings and DEQ public hearing, the permit application was formally denied in 2009 by the DEQ. The US Army Corps of Engineers never took action on the application after the denial from the DEQ. The DEQ listed approximately ten items of concern as a basis for their denial. Several of the items just needed minor tweaking, some were deficiencies in the submitted application and probably the area of most concern was the amount public trust waters and public navigation impairment.
Based on the denial process the City (Commission support) exercised its rights to appeal the denial. Through the appeal process there is opportunity to meet with representatives from the DEQ and DNR (Fisheries Div.) better understand each others positions and negotiate some of the sticking points of the denial. Out of these discussions, representatives of these agencies stated that they believed the City had a project that could be permitted; it just needed to be tweaked. Without an urgent need to have a project permitted, this negotiation process went on for about two years. These discussions resulted in a revised 2010 draft plan.
While working on the plan in 2010, the City Commissioners, as well as citizens expressed concerns regarding the financial aspects of completing a marina improvement project. The City Commissioners have stressed that the marina should be financially self sufficient. The economy, fuel prices, and real estate market were also playing a role in the feasibility for the marina plans. Due to these concerns, the City inquired whether there was a possibility of expanding the marina using an incremental approach. At the same time representatives of the Waterways Commission and DNR Parks & Recreation Division also encouraged the City to look into a plan that could be built in phases. With the economy and limited funding, Waterways representatives stated they were looking for smaller projects or individual phases of a larger project to fund. Proposed phases are reflected in the 2010 draft plan.
In 2011 the City received a grant from the Michigan Waterways to replace the City’s Day Dock (Shoppers’ Dock / Fishing Pier) and renovate the five fixed piers at the marina. Again, the City hired an engineering firm to work with the City to obtain permits and draw up the engineered plans needed to do so.
In 2012 we formally submitted the 2010 draft plan for joint review by the DEQ and the USACE. Because of the low water levels, the DEQ felt the plan would not be valid without dredging. Dredging was not a part of the original 2007 permit and was not part of the public notice; therefore the DEQ suggested we just file a new permit application. In order to not jeopardize the funding for the project listed above, the City opted to reduce the permit application on file to address the current project which doesn’t require dredging and submit a new application using the revised a 2013 Plan that has been developing over the past year and addresses the need to dredge. This proposed plan and permit application is currently under discussion.
Once a permit is granted, it is good for up to five years (3 years with a 2 year extension request). During the five years that the permit is valid, the applicant may build any portion of the project that was permitted but is not required to build any or all of it and the permits will just expire.