2018-04-19 / Local News

Suttons Bay marina damaged by ice; major project delayed

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


EDIE AYLSWORTH, Suttons Bay Harbormaster, had hoped to have the village marina closer to being ready for boaters by this week -- but Mother Nature had different ideas. EDIE AYLSWORTH, Suttons Bay Harbormaster, had hoped to have the village marina closer to being ready for boaters by this week -- but Mother Nature had different ideas. Ice and rising Lake Michigan water levels have damaged piers and delayed a $130,000 project to “armor” an eroding earthen dock at the Suttons Bay Marina.

In addition, the weather has delayed the launch of an estimated $2 million project to upgrade electrical and water service at the marina and make other improvements called for in a Marina Master Plan the Suttons Bay Village Council adopted two years ago.

According to Suttons Bay Harbormaster Edie Aylsworth, every effort will be made to open the marina by mid-May as planned. Earlier this month, Aylsworth and her crews were ready to begin the usual spring task of reinstalling gangways serving the marina’s floating finger piers.

Then, winter returned.

“This is making putting the harbor together nearly impossible,” Aylsworth told marina slip holders in an email blast. “I am really hoping the weather breaks (so we) can get started on the… process of the spring startup.”

This week, however, huge blocks of ice were still floating around on Suttons Bay. They entered the mouth of the main marina basin and tore one of the finger piers loose. It is now sideways against the southern dock in the transient berthing section of the marina.

Two other finger piers on the north side of the transient docks have also been damaged. Earlier this week, water was too rough and ice too plentiful for anyone to safely inspect the piers to assess damage. At the same time, a surge of water also brought water levels up to the bottom of the marina’s fuel dock, although the water has since receded.

On the “old coal dock” directly to the south of the main marina, village officials had planned to install more large rocks, or “rip rap,” adding to the rock “armor” they installed last year near the middle of the earthen dock. Officials had planned to spend another $130,000 to install more rip-rap along the old coal dock closer to the shore this spring.

Now, that project will be held off until the fall because the work would interfere with getting the marina open this spring in the face of weather delays.

Meanwhile, a more ambitious $2 million marina improvement project that officials had originally hoped to begin this fall will be postponed until next year at the earliest.

That project would result in the replacement and upgrade of electrical and water systems serving the marina, including some new docks. The plan is for docks to be connected to head piers that will be equipped with electrical power pedestals and water hose bibs.

In addition, access to finger piers will no longer be from individual gangways, but from several shared gangways throughout the marina. That project will likely occur as a part of a multi-phase, multiple-year effort that now may not even begin until 2019.

Although a money has been made available from the village’s General Fund for the $130,000 rip-rap installation project this fall, financing is not yet in place for the estimated $2 million marina improvement project.

At its regular monthly meeting this week, the Village Council voted 7-0 to adopt a formal Resolution of Intent to issue municipal bonds totaling no more than $1.75 million to help fund the marina improvement project. The resolution puts registered voters in the village on notice that they can petition for a referendum on the issue before the next step is taken.

“This is just a preliminary step in a process to acquire funding for this project – and that’s only if another series of decisions are made to move forward,” Village Manager Wally Delamater said.

The village has already paid for engineering estimates on the project that put the price tag at around $2 million. More detailed engineering work would be required before bid specifications are prepared, bids are solicited, and the actual cost of the project is known.

In other business at its regular monthly meeting Monday evening, the Suttons Bay Village Council:

 Adopted a resolution authorizing village Treasurer Lori Devol to invest part of the village’s financial holdings in the Michigan Cooperative Liquid Assets Securities System (Michigan CLASS), an investment pool for local governments. The pool offers higher rates of return than other financial instruments commonly used by local municipal treasurers.

 Agreed to authorize American Waste to conduct a curbside pickup of junk and trash in the village on April 9. Generally, the popular annual program is paid for with about $6,000 from village coffers.

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