City officials hope work will be completed this week

MARQUETTE – City officials are hoping to complete the installation of a mooring field in Marquette’s Lower Harbor in the coming days.

“We hope to have it done this week,” said Mike Angeli, Marquette’s police chief and harbormaster. “The weather held us back a little last week.”

The field will have 21 total moorings – five for boats up to 24 feet in length, 10 for boats up to 30 feet and six for boats in excess of 30 feet.

The annual fee for a mooring will be $362, regardless of boat size. The city expects that within five years, fee collection would pay off the initial cost of the equipment. At that time, money should begin flowing into a mooring field fund for future use.

During the 2012 boating season, regular users were allowed to continue using their previous anchorage for no charge with the understanding that once the mooring field is in place this year, they would be required to use the new field and pay the fee.

The capital outlay cost for the project was estimated at $26,392, while the annual maintenance cost will be about $1,920 and the annual maintenance cost $380.

Though the harbor is considered a “safe harbor” – and can thus support short-term makeshift mooring – the field has been used historically as a long-term anchorage. Angeli said that use is illegal under Michigan Department of Natural Resources regulations.

“Technically, it’s not legal according to the Michigan DNR,” he said. “It’s an improper use of the bottomland because of the extent of the stay.”

The city went through a process to convey control of the bottomlands to Marquette, receiving permits from the DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“It legitimizes and legalizes the (mooring) process, plus it makes it a secure mooring as opposed to what was a makeshift before,” Angeli said.

The mooring field should provide more security than the previous makeshift anchors, according to Angeli. In the past, boats have broken loose in the wind and it has been difficult to find the owner.

Now, the owner will be easily identifiable and boat owners will be required to have insurance on their vessels.

As of Monday, 16 or 17 of the 21 spots had been claimed, Angeli said.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.