2017-08-17 / Front Page

St. Ignace Marina Work Anticipated

By Kevin R. Hess


A $3,000 grant has been awarded to the St. Ignace Marina for the engineering of a paddleboat launch for canoes, kayaks, and other craft. The launch would be 65 feet, be handicap accessible, and collapsible so it can be removed from the water during the winter. It would be built from the boardwalk on the south side of the marina. Once the engineering is complete, steps will be taken to fund the building of the launch. A $3,000 grant has been awarded to the St. Ignace Marina for the engineering of a paddleboat launch for canoes, kayaks, and other craft. The launch would be 65 feet, be handicap accessible, and collapsible so it can be removed from the water during the winter. It would be built from the boardwalk on the south side of the marina. Once the engineering is complete, steps will be taken to fund the building of the launch. “I might be biased, but I think we’re pretty much the best marina around,” said St. Ignace Marina Director Mike Singleton.

While the comment was said in lighthearted jest, with recent and future improvements to the marina, Mr. Singleton may not be far off in his sentiment. Summer business has been “outstanding,” he said, and the recent approval of two grants will aid in making improvements to attract more boaters and guests. EUP Regional Planning and Development awarded a $3,000 grant to the marina, for the engineering of a paddleboat launch for canoes, kayaks, and other watercraft, complete with handicap access. Once the engineering phase is complete, steps will be taken to fund the building of the launch. The launch will be built at the south end of the marina, from the boardwalk that runs along Lake Huron, and would be 65 feet in length. It must also be collapsible, allowing it to be removed during winter to avoid being damaged by ice. The launch would be the first of its kind in St. Ignace, drawing more tourists and recreational boaters into the area.


The St. Ignace Marina will soon be getting all new wooden planks throughout its event dock. Next summer, this boat, a boat serving Mackinac Island named Polaris, will not be docked in St. Ignace. Mike Singleton, marina director, said this will make for a better view of the lake and Mackinac Island. In the future, Mr. Singleton has goals of extending this section of the marina into deeper water, where people could fish off the dock. The St. Ignace Marina will soon be getting all new wooden planks throughout its event dock. Next summer, this boat, a boat serving Mackinac Island named Polaris, will not be docked in St. Ignace. Mike Singleton, marina director, said this will make for a better view of the lake and Mackinac Island. In the future, Mr. Singleton has goals of extending this section of the marina into deeper water, where people could fish off the dock. A second grant from Enbridge Energy will fund the replacement of wooden planks for the convention area of the marina, where bands play and where events such as St. Ignace Fish Feast are held. The current planks have been in use since 2003 and are showing signs of weathering, especially in areas of heavy foot traffic.


Bo and Joanne Barrett have had a seasonal slip at St. Ignace Marina for 23 years. Residents of Grand Blanc, Mr. and Mrs. Barrett love coming to St. Ignace and say that the marina is one of the nicest ones in the area, and has a great staff. They are pictured here just outside the event area of the marina dock. Bo and Joanne Barrett have had a seasonal slip at St. Ignace Marina for 23 years. Residents of Grand Blanc, Mr. and Mrs. Barrett love coming to St. Ignace and say that the marina is one of the nicest ones in the area, and has a great staff. They are pictured here just outside the event area of the marina dock. “There have been cars and trucks on this thing, as well as all of the traffic from our events,” said Mr. Singleton. “It’s in need of an upgrade.”

The plans include modernizing the look of the area and installing spindles on the outside that could be removed or opened up to allow boats to dock on the north side of the marina if necessary. Work on the marina boardwalk should begin sometime in the next two months and the project could take two weeks to complete. Enbridge will loan the use of its equipment, along with a few workers to assist Mr. Singleton and his crew. The Coast Guard will also be involved in the work. Many of the marina staff, largely comprised of high school and college students, will be back in school by the time the work starts. The grant will completely fund the project.

“Enbridge was very generous in its support of this project, and their willingness to help us build it,” he said.

Mr. Singleton has many goals for improving the marina and expanding its use in the near future. One of those goals includes building on to the existing marina and extending it into deeper waters where people could fish. He also hopes to host more events like awards ceremonies for events like the St. Ignace Car Show, and even weddings and receptions. With many bands and musicians that entertain crowds during the summer months, Mr. Singleton feels it would be beneficial to build a stage on the marina dock, as well. He says they are trying to model the marina after ones like Charlevoix and Bay Harbor Marina in Petoskey, who do a great job of attracting guests to their areas.

“We are in a great area, the center of it all,” said Mr. Singleton. “We’re located close to Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City, and the Les Cheneaux

Islands. We have multimillion dollar boats that dock right here in St. Ignace. We want to take advantage of that and make this a place everyone wants to be by improving the waterfront and generating additional revenue.”

Last October, 20 members of the community, along with city leaders, shared their vision for St. Ignace during the Small Harbor Sustainability project hosted by Michigan Sea Grant. People were divided into smaller groups to discuss how and where St. Ignace could improve its waterfront. In the final report shared with the community in January, the marina was at the top of everyone’s list as St. Ignace’s number one asset. Mr. Singleton has been working hard to find ways to leverage that asset, and his efforts have already begun to pay off. The project made him aware of areas they could improve, and grants that were available to make it happen. In addition to the grants, another big improvement, he says, has been the use of social media to drive in traffic.

An updated Web site has helped.

“For years, our Web site information was out of date,” said Mr. Singleton. “We’re on the map now and people are coming to us. Transients come in and ask us where they should eat and visit and we get to help direct them to many of St. Ignace’s great restaurants and businesses.”

In the spring, Mr. Singleton began the process to become certified as a Clean Marina through the Michigan Clean Marina. Marinas that receive clean marina status voluntarily pledge to maintain and improve their waterways by reducing or eliminating releases of harmful substances, and phasing out practices that can damage aquatic environments. To receive certification, marinas must complete a 10-step process that includes training, a self-evaluation checklist, and a site visit. Once approved, a marina receives a flag to fly at their facility, marking it as an official Clean Marina. Many boaters look for these certifications knowing that the marina is clean and properly cared for. The process can take up to a year and Mr. Singleton hopes to have the designation sometime in 2018.

Although the marina doesn’t yet have Clean Marina status with the state, many of the seasonal boaters say it is well taken care of and it is one of the reasons they keep coming back. Bo and Joanne Barrett of Grand Blanc have been seasonal boaters for 23 years. They say it is one of the nicest marinas in the area.

“The staff here has been great, and every harbormaster we’ve known has been great, too,” said Mrs. Barrett. “Mike [Singleton] is no exception.”

“Between the marina and the town itself, we love coming up here,” said Mr. Barrett.

Dave and Sharon Klamerus are residents of Drummond Island and have had a seasonal boat slip in St. Ignace for 10 years.

“We initially began stopping here to save gas, and we just ended up staying,” said Mrs. Klamerus.

“The activities are fun, the location is great, and the people here are nice,” said Mr. Klamerus.

George Thomas of Grand Rapids has a summer residence in Pointe Aux Chenes, and has docked his boat at the St. Ignace Marina for seven years.

“It’s very clean and well-maintained,” he said. “The staff is great.”

While the summer season has been great, Mr. Singleton is looking to the future and says he is always trying to think ahead and of ways they can continue to improve and different events they can host.

“The city council and the mayor have been very supportive of everything we’re trying to do here,” he said. “During Fish Feast, we were at almost 100% capacity. I’d love to see more events happening here that bring in people like that.”

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