Traverse City leaders weighing options for coal docks

The Great Lakes Discovery Center is hoping to gain use of the coal dock across the street, which is surplus land currently owned by Traverse City Light and Power.

Traverse City officials are discussing Monday evening what to do with the coal dock that is currently owned by Traverse City Light and Power along M-22 in Leelanau County.

The utility's property is considered surplus, as it hasn't been used for coal deliveries in at least a decade. The surplus land also includes the area between the Great Lakes Discovery Center and Family Video across the road from the dock.

Options for the coal dock include putting it under the city's control or selling it. The city purchased the property for $215,000 in 1978, but it was recently appraised at $2.68 million.

Another possibility, being proposed by the Great Lakes Discovery Center and Rotary Camps and Services, is for the Great Lakes Discovery Center to gain control of the property. The Discovery Center, a nonprofit educational hub owned by Rotary Camps and Services, is situated just across the road from dock and directly south of the other piece of surplus land.

"The Discovery Center has come up with a plan, they've worked very hard on it," said Patrick McGuire, Traverse City Light & Power Chairman of the Board. "It's a plan that will integrate what Elmwood Township has already done along the bay-front, which is very nice. We're standing here just south of the playground that they put in and it will extend that and make good use of this property, so it's a good plan. I don't know if that's the plan that the City Commission would favor or not, but it's certainly a good plan, and I think it's an option worth considering."

McGuire also said that selling the property to a private owner could help Traverse City Light and Power keep costs down for customers. Additionally, he said that keeping the dock as a deep water port is a significant concern, which is a part of the Discovery Center's proposal.

The joint study session between the City Commission and Traverse City Light and Power Board is scheduled for 7-p.m. on Monday, February 10th. All options are still on the table as of right now, and the final decision will not be made at Monday's meeting.