Upgrading the marina

By DAN ROBLEE

Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

L’ANSE – The village of L’Anse is moving forward with a plan to renovate and expand its downtown marina. The village council agreed Monday to seek a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program to pay just under half of the $535,000 needed for the first of three phases of the long-term project.

The first phase will focus on upgrades to the existing marina, including new bathrooms, sidewalks, additional parking, a service dock for fueling and waste pump out and replacing the current floating pier. If the grant is approved, construction would probably begin in the summer of 2016, according to village manager Robert LaFave.

The village would be responsible for about $275,000 of the cost of phase 1.

LaFave said the marina was unlikely to ever directly recoup the village’s investment directly, but that improvements would provide an overall benefit to the community.

“It offers a front door to the community on the waterfront,” he said. “It’s one of the catalysts for people to come to the community and spend money in other businesses.”

Eventually, the village hopes to continue the project with additional phases that would add new rock piers with sidewalks, areas for fishing off those piers, a spot to view the 100-year-old wreck of the “Northerner” off one of those piers, deep-water slips for six boats and smaller slips for at least eight more.

Before the vote, Greg Kingstrom of U.P. Engineers & Architects summarized the results of his company’s feasibility and engineering study on the marina, which has been in the works since last April. He recommended the three-stage plan as the most viable option after discussions with the village’s Downtown Development Authority, he said.

“We talked about how to get the most space for your dollars and how to break it up into phases,” Kingstrom said.

U.P. Engineers estimated the total cost for all three phases of the project at $2.1 million.

The marina upgrades will come with a significant price hike for boaters.

“We haven’t had a problem filling slips,” LaFave said, answering a question from council member Ron Ervast.

However, he added, the DNR will now require the village to charge rates on par with the rest of the state, as part of the agreement for the feasibility study grant, and any other grants moving forward. Also, it won’t allow them to charge different rates for local and visiting boaters.

Treasurer Janet Supanich said she recently ran a new price for a marina customer with a 23-foot boat. Last year, she said, that person had paid about $300 for a slip for the summer. Under the DNR’s formula, she said, they would have to pay over $800.

In other business, the council:

– Approved the lease of two 1.34-acre lots at the city’s Lambert Road industrial park to Joe Parrow, to be developed into an auto-recycling business, at the rate of $500 per year for each lot.

– Approved an increase in curbside garbage pickup rates by $1 per month for both residential and commercial garbage customers. Residential customers will now pay $14 per month, commercial customers $22 per month.