The City of Harbor Springs will begin a major dredging project next month at all its city marina facilities and at Ford Park launching ramp. The gray area indicates where the dredging will occur. The project is expected to wrap-up in mid-December.
Charles O'Neill Editor
Digging, dumping and trucking will be taking place along the Harbor Springs waterfront in November and December as the city of Harbor Springs will undertake a $700,000 dredging project around all the city docks and Ford Park.
The project is being paid for by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), part of its efforts to help municipal marinas around the state deal with record low lake levels in recent years.
Back in February of this year, the DNR announced that the Michigan State Waterways Commission adopted an emergency dredging plan, providing zero-match grant funding opportunities for harbors of refuge, recreational boating harbors, marinas and boat launches most affected by the low water levels.
The DNR Parks and Recreation Division announced at the time it would dedicate a total of nearly $21 million toward keeping Michigan's waterways operational.
City manager Tom Richards said at that time the city had planned, and were engineering, dredging at the Ford Park launch ramp. The DNR contacted him directly and ultimately offered the city a $700,000 grant.
After looking at the fine print of the grant, Richards said there were a number of "hooks" in the DNR proposal that caused the city to take a hard look at what accepting the money might mean in terms of local control over the marina.
Ultimately, the city drafted a different proposal and presented it to the DNR. That was accepted by the DNR a few months ago.
So with a grant of $700,000 offered, the city decided to dredge the entire marina, something that would have ultimately needed to done anyway, Richards said, and at the city's expense.
Initially, the city Harbor Commission thought the project could be broken up into two smaller phases, one in the fall and one in the spring, which would allow the local marina businesses to possibly bid on the work.
However, Richards said there were indications the grant money might go away at the end of the year, so the city kicked everything into high gear.
Following letting of bids, the city accepted the proposal from Ryba Marine Construction Company out of Cheboygan to handle the dredging and Tri-County Excavating of Harbor Springs will haul the material away.
Richards said the project schedule now shows Ford Park dredging to begin on November 1.
"We expect to keep the park open until approximately Oct. 28," he said.
Marina dredging is to follow and is set to begin November 10.
Ford park will be closed until cleanup of the site, with completion scheduled for December 19, Richards said.
The dredging will include what they call a "turbidity curtain" around the project, he noted, to minimize any suspended material from getting outside the dredging area.
The excavator is also responsible for cleaning up spillage on the roadways. Richards said that cleanup will take place weekly.
There will likely be some damage to Ford Park from all the dumping and trucking. The city will handle any necessary Park repairs, Richards said.