Marina to fall under Trenton parks oversight

Photo by James Mitchell

Trenton takes over
A crew from the Michigan State University Extension Great Lakes Education Department docks at Elizabeth Park Marina. The university’s boat and wildlife tour ended the season Friday with a voyage featuring Bennett Elementary School students from Detroit.

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — Nearly a century after the park property was donated to the then-newly formed Wayne County Parks commission, the Elizabeth Park Marina operations will next year be under the guidance of city staff.

Trenton Parks and Recreation Director Pat Hawkins said the transfer was prompted by Wayne County officials, who faced budget limitations due to a county requirement that full-time staff be employed at the marina.

“I was approached last March to see if we might have an interest in the operations,” Hawkins said. Wayne County Parks Director Beverly Watts initiated meetings with Hawkins, and explained that labor issues and overtime costs left the county unable to fund the marina, which generates an estimated $125,000 to $140,000 annually.

Hawkins said the numbers were reviewed, and with part-time and seasonal workers, Trenton could both finance the operation and likely produce income for the city’s recreation programs.

“If we end up making a profit, which I expect we will, the leftover would go into capital improvements of our own boat launch,” Hawkins said of plans for the ramp at the nearby Rotary Park boat launch. “We can now offer some part-time employment for adults, college kids or seniors.”

Trenton Mayor Gerald Brown said the agreement with the county represents cooperation between government agencies.

“It’s a form of collaboration that the governor wants,” Brown said. “It’s a good idea, and it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction. We’d hate to get to a point where they closed it down. We won’t allow that to happen as long as we can be a part of it.”

The Trenton City Council approved the agreement Monday, Oct. 3, and the pact awaits confirmation from Wayne County. Trenton will take over the marina beginning in April 2012.

The property of Elizabeth Park was bequeathed in 1919 to Wayne County by the children of Elizabeth Slocum, a gift that launched the beginning of the Wayne County Park system. More than 1,300 feet of riverwalk lines the park’s view of the Detroit River, a perpetual attraction for boaters and visitors. The marina is open from April 1 to Oct. 31.

Hawkins said that cost projections anticipate operations to run about $90,000 a year, and the potential exists for Trenton to clear $30,000 or more in profit.

“We have a good relationship with the County,” Hawkins said. “We’re not trying to take over, we’re just trying to keep it open.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at