Fate of transient marina uncertain after report

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – The fate of a long-planned transient marina in Bishop Park is uncertain after a recent ad hoc committee’s report.

At their meeting Monday, city councilors reviewed findings of a March 4 operations and marketing report by the nine-member Ad Hoc Marina Committee that laid out two bleak findings: running the arena could cost up to $97,000 annually and collecting that much money from marina proceeds would require its consistent running at well over 50 percent capacity.

Those findings led to uncertainty about whether councilors should apply for two planned grants to support the marina: a $2.3 million Boating Infrastructure grant and a $252,000 grant to help support the planned day use floating docks. Both grants require 50 percent matching from the city.

In a letter to the council about the grants, City Administrator Todd Drysdale cautioned them to find a way to fund the marina in the event of city revenue shortfalls before applying to any grants that bind the city to the project. City Attorney William Look said the grants, which the council approved applying for, can be returned if the city does not go forward with the project.

Further money could also be at stake as a result of the city’s planned $1 million dredging project to remove contaminated sediment from the planned site of the marina prior to its construction. Look said The Army Corp of Engineers and Michigan Department of Natural Resources will not indemnify the city if anything goes wrong with the dredging and costs associated with correcting any problems found during that phase are not currently covered by grants or insurance.

“If there’s items in the sediment we’re not expecting, if pollutants escape and go downstream, the city’s on the hook to correct those items,” Look said.

Look said the city is looking into further insurance to cover the dredging portion of the project.

Councilman Leonard Sabuda, who helped champion the project as a way to bring boaters downtown as the city’s mayor more than ten years ago, said the findings were “disappointing” and his continued support for the project will depend on the result of planned meetings to discuss alternatives.

“I’m shocked to get in a letter in regards to the marina that it looks like the program is going to die,” Sabuda said. “If this letter is the death knoll for the marina, I would rather just end this request for putting up a marina in the bishop park area. The money isn’t there and we cannot put the city in the position to be responsible for the money.”

Sabuda later in the meeting expressed a desire to continue with the project, pending further insurance coverage.

“I’d like to see this program advance and be good for the city,” Sabuda said. “But it’s disappointing to hear something like that.”