Picking up the pieces: Manistee Municipal Marina dock repairs to be completed by spring

The Manistee Municipal Marina is still dealing with damaged docks, but a plan is now in place to fix them. Minor details still need to be worked out. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

The Manistee Municipal Marina is still dealing with damaged docks, but a plan is now in place to fix them. Minor details still need to be worked out. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — A plan is now in place to repair docks at the Manistee Municipal Marina, following a seiche event on April 13 that resulted in significant damage to the area.

A sieche is caused by extreme high or low-pressure systems or wind-driven wave run up and results in sudden and extreme water fluctuations. Levels in the Manistee River channel were observed to fluctuate eight feet within 10 to 15 minutes.

Tim Kozal, Manistee Department of Public Safety director and harbor master, said the city’s insurance company has agreed to cover all of the damage from the west dock in the Marina, to the docks just east of the gas kiosk dock.

Loss of revenue costs, due to the inability to use damaged docks for the duration of this year’s boating season, is also a part of the coverage plan.

“We do have a small deductible that we have to pay, of course,” Kozal said. “They are also covering a loss of revenue, because of what happened we were not able to use a lot of those docks. We have possible loss, and we are working on trying to figure out those projections.”

The project will be bid out in January, by February contractor awards should be granted and the projected date of completion is by May 15, when the season starts.

However, Kozal said he is pushing for at least May 1.

“We have a timeline that the engineers put together as far as permitting, looking at contacts, bidding and everything,” Kozal said. “They actually put in their (report) that they hope for a completion by April 27, 2019.”

Currently, the total cost is not easy to project, but Kozal said it will not be cheap. The gas kiosk was already repaired and covered by insurance.

“(The cost of damage) is really uncertain until bids come in but for design, engineer work, cost for removal and everything, it is going to be over $500,000 easily,” he said.

The city is planning to completely upgrade the docks, allowing them to be adjusted to the water level. Previous renovations to the docks made adjustments nearly impossible.

“We are going to, because of the fluctuations to our water levels, upgrade the docks so they can be moved up and down,” Kozal said. “They won’t be floating, but they will be movable docks.

“The (docks) have been around long enough to have the pilings cut, re-attached, now they are solid and that’s why we are having issues with water (rising) up to where some of them will be under water.”

The city is also seeking additional funds to, hopefully, replace docks that are not included in the insurance coverage plan — these docks are in better condition than the others. Upgrades to all docks, Kozal said, would make it more uniform and prepare for future water fluctuations.

“We would probably have to get a waterways grant, and we hope to re-approach the Manistee County Community Foundation for that also,” Kozal said. “It is a substantial cost, probably $28,000 worth of docks to put in.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently contacted the city, asking whether the marina’s docks will be open to the public by next year, as people typically start booking summer vacations ahead of time.

Kozal said that he assured the DNR a solution will be secured by then.

“In a six months window you can start reserving things through the state for camping and everything for next year,” Kozal said. “The (DNR) wanted to know if we are keeping it closed. I said no, we are anticipating and being very optimistic this will be done.”

While the marina was closed for the summer season, two slips were used by U.S. Coast Guard and DNR boats. Right now, the city can allot 10 out of 38 docks available for seasonal boat slips, but Kozal said the Harbor Commission is working to increase that number.

“I am working with the DNR also to try to get more seasonal slips available,” he said. “We want to try to get that up to 18, so more people will pay a rate to allow their boat to be there the whole season.”

In the July 17 Harbor Commission meeting minutes, a report stated that the city had to turn away 28 boats in one week, due to damaged docks. Reports indicated that at least 30 percent of the docks were damaged in the seiche, or were completely swept away.

While the seiche was a large financial burden, Kozal said they are hopeful the city marina will be ready for another boating season in 2019.

“It was a terrible incident, and it really hurt us because you look at all of the marinas around us and they are getting at least a 10 percent increase in sales — both slips and fuel,” he said. “There’s a lot of boats out there and we would like to get them into our marina.”

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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