GRAND HAVEN, Mich. – Discussions between city government and local boaters in Grand Haven have stalled regarding a potential fee for tying off on the harbor’s seawall.
In 2005, the city’s Harbor Board made a recommendations to the council to institute a $5 fee for mooring on the wall, then tweaked the proposal to $10 the following year. According to those at a Harbor Board meeting Tuesday, that policy never made it past the recommendation stage.
However, boaters complained about sporadic enforcement of the fees, mainly around the Fourth of July and during Coast Guard Festival. But with no signs along the seawall and no actual ordinance, boaters were left wondering, why the fee and what is it for?
“Where is this money going?” said longtime Grand Haven boater Heath Blondin. “Is it going towards up keeping the wall? Is it going to make it easier and better for us to tie up, or more accommodating for travelers or is it just a money grab?”
Blondin wasn’t alone. About a dozen avid members of the Grand Haven-area boating community showed up to the meeting, voicing concern over the fees. They argued, mainly, that because no other harbors charge fees to tie off, boaters would go elsewhere.
City Manager Pat McGinis was in attendance, mentioning that the harbor itself was $1 million-plus in the red. Other than that, boating enthusiasts couldn’t see a reason for jumping to charge those who support the marina and harbor anyways.
“I guess we’re just looking for some clarification,” said Bolidin, “especially because they haven’t done any upgrades or any type of maintenance with any of the money that they’re bringing in. The cleats have been broken for several years, they’ve done no other type of upgrades, they don’t provide power - any type of utilities - nor is it a safe harbor.”
No decision was reached, however, the board is holding off on a recommendation until they, McGinis, and local boaters can find a more amenable way to get out of the red and cut down on dangerous boating practices.