2016-10-13 / Front Page

Public To Offer Ideas About City Waterfront

St. Ignace Has Opportunity To Envision Future
By Sam Morgen


A public meeting Monday, October 24, will help create a new plan for the public property on the St. Ignace waterfront. A new use for the city property that houses the municipal salt shed near Dock 3 Park, shown here, could be discussed. The St. Ignace Public Library will be the site of the meeting from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to participate. A public meeting Monday, October 24, will help create a new plan for the public property on the St. Ignace waterfront. A new use for the city property that houses the municipal salt shed near Dock 3 Park, shown here, could be discussed. The St. Ignace Public Library will be the site of the meeting from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to participate. Making best use of the public property along the St. Ignace waterfront will be the topic of a public visioning meeting at the St. Ignace Public Library Monday, October 24, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s in order so that we can develop a long term plan of action,” said former harbormaster Clyde Hart, who is helping organize the meeting. “We need to get a consensus of what we want along our waterfront and then we need to get a plan to get us there.”

Aerial photographs of the St. Ignace waterfront will be presented to participants at the meeting, with tracing paper laid on top of the images. During the meeting, citizens will be invited to draw on the tracing paper, to come up with plans for different areas along the waterfront.


The city property that houses the municipal salt shed, shown here, overlooks Lake Huron and Mackinac Island (visible in background), and is adjacent to a city park featuring a pavilion, picnic areas, and a playground. The city property that houses the municipal salt shed, shown here, overlooks Lake Huron and Mackinac Island (visible in background), and is adjacent to a city park featuring a pavilion, picnic areas, and a playground. Potential ideas include a small boating school that the St. Ignace Yacht Club has discussed bringing to the St. Ignace Marina, a theater space, a maritime museum, or a boat building school, said Mr. Hart.

“Collectively, what are the uses we want to have on the waterfront and how are we going to tie the waterfront to the rest of the community,” he said.

Michigan Sea Grant, with funds from the Michigan Department of Environmental

Quality and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, has guided the city through the process of redeveloping its waterfront free of charge.

According to Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan’s shoreline contains more than 80 small public harbors. In the past 10 years, lower water levels and economic hardships have threatened the financial sustainability of these public harbors.

State and federal funding for public harbors has also decreased.

Through MSG, Donald Carpenter of Lawrence Technological University developed the Sustainable “Small Harbor Management Strategy” for municipal marinas in Michigan to become economically sustainable. The guidebook was tested in Au Gres, New Baltimore, Ontonagon, and Pentwater in 2015. St. Ignace and Rogers City are acting as initial sites for the guidebook to be used, and Dr. Carpenter will use the examples set by Rogers City and St. Ignace to show other municipal marinas in Michigan how his process works, in helping cities create economically viable municipal marinas.

In 2015, Pentwater, Aus Gres, New Baltimore, and Ontonagon participated in three 12-hour days of design charrettes in which community members brainstormed about the future of the city’s waterfront.

The citizens of each city came up with three plans from the three-day meeting. In Pentwater, the three plans involved setting up either some restaurants in what is now an open park area by the city’s marina, opening a marine craft school in that area, or creating a place for Michigan universities to open extension offices.

After receiving public input, Pentwater’s planners decided to pursue the restaurant option.

The Pentwater event also touched on strategies the city could pursue to connect the downtown to the marina by enabling mixed-use buildings and installing asphalt bike lanes next to the main street.

Dr. Carpenter and Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator Mark Breederland introduced the plan to the St. Ignace Harbor Committee in May. Following the meeting, Mr. Hart and marina director Mike Singleton began gathering materials that may enable the city to obtain grants. The grants will enable the city to achieve the goals suggested at the visioning session.

“It’s not like we’re going to be showered with grant money,” Mr. Hart said. “It’s going to take 10 to 20 years.”

He said St. Ignace residents should attend the meeting ready to change the way visitors think about St. Ignace. The meeting is open to all.

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