Great Lakes communities to benefit from bill

An appropriations bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder Wednesday will benefit communities along the Great Lakes, including several in the Upper Peninsula.

Included in the legislation was funding for about 50 emergency dredging projects around the state, including a dozen in the U.P. Included are the Big Bay Harbor of Refuge, Munising Bayshore Marina, Grand Marais Harbor, Lac La Belle State Harbor – all on Lake Superior – and seven other U.P. harbors on lakes Michigan and Huron.

The emergency dredging projects were prompted by shipping and boating problems related to near-record low water levels in the Great Lakes.

Funds for the work were diverted from projects set to receive grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources waterways boating program.

Unfortunately, one of the grants scratched from that program was one for $201,200 the city of Marquette was set to receive as a 50-percent match for phase two of its Presque Isle Marina renovation project. The work includes construction of a new boat launch, bathrooms and a fish-cleaning station and resurfacing of the parking lot.

Funds have been received under the waterways program for the first phase, which includes demolition of the south pier and dredging in the Upper Harbor. This work should be completed by the end of June

City officials said they understand the need to divert funds into the emergency dredging program, and they are hopeful the money will come through next year and not cause a major delay in the marina renovation.

We are also hopeful the project will continue in a timely manner and the Presque Isle Marina will be rebuilt into a modern, boater-friendly facility.

Also included in the legislation to fund the dredging projects was $23.3 million from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for land acquisitions and recreation-related projects.

Among the projects funded are two in Marquette County, including a $281,000 extension of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail that will run 4.8 miles from Ishpeming’s Winthrop Junction to Ely Township. The other Marquette County project provides $88,800 to the city of Marquette for development that will include permanent restrooms at McCarty’s Cove.

Despite the city running into a little speed bump in its Presque Isle Marina project, state funds that are coming to the region will certainly enhance the outdoor recreation offerings in the area.