Escanaba to receive harbor dredging funds

ESCANABA – Escanaba’s municipal marina is slated to receive some emergency dredging funds due to low water levels.

Escanaba City Council approved accepting $262,500 of emergency dredging funds from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources with no matching funds required at the local level. The action was taken at Thursday’s city council meeting.

According to DNR data from February 2013, water levels of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are at an all-time low and are expected to continue to drop. As lake levels decrease, dredging needs increase to allow boats to access harbors.

“This comes at a great time for us because even before the low water levels that we’ve had, we had a dredging issue that we needed to deal with which we did not have the funding to do,” explained Harbormaster Larry Gravatt during the meeting.

Gravatt said the DNR sent out surveys to marinas in January asking for their dredging needs.

He noted Escanaba may even receive more funding, as he requested even more than the $262,500 grant amount.

“After looking at this project, I looked at other areas in the marina that might need to be dredged,” he said. “That number went up to 14,000 yards so the number that I actually put in my permit application for the grant was $564,000.”

In 2001 a similar dredging project was completed in the municipal marina, which removed approximately 7,500 yards of material. The project was a hydraulic dredging process using a suction hose and transporting the sand via hose to the public beaches – where most of the sand originally came from. The hydraulic dredging process will be used again using the emergency funds.

Gravatt has not yet heard back from the DNR Waterways Commission on any additional funding they will receive, but expects to hear from them in the near future, and also hopes to soon begin the bidding process for the project.

According to the DNR’s fisheries division, from April 1 to June 15, no dredging may be done due to fish spawning season. However, Gravatt said this is addressed on a case-by-case basis and he hopes to have the dredging project completed in time for the Esky 150 celebrations.

“I talked to the fisheries department and their concern is sediment being stirred up,” explained Gravatt, noting that sediment is not stirred up as much by using the hydraulic dredging process.

In other business, council:

set a second reading, public hearing and adoption of an ordinance for renaming the street called Water Plant Road in Ludington Park to Beaumier Way for April 18. The request to rename the street was made by the Community Foundation for Delta County in honor of the contributions made to the community by Dr. John and Mary Jane Beaumier.

awarded the firework display contract to Wolverine Fireworks of Kawkawlin, Mich., for both the Independence Day and Esky 150 celebrations in the amount of $10,000 for each display. The city of Escanaba has used Wolverine Fireworks for the last 15 years. Council also authorized the contract amount to increase equal to the amount of community donations received for the displays.

awarded Stenberg Brothers, of Bark River, a contract to provide sanitation services for city parks, recreational areas and special events through March 31, 2014.

approved a consent agenda for the following community events using public space: use of Ludington Park and Ludington Street by Krusin Klassics Car Club for the annual “Krusin Klassics Fun Run” on May 31; use of the Ludington Park Karas Band Shell and neighboring soccer field by the Bay de Noc Great Lakes Sports Fishermen Club for the 4th Annual Angler Young Angler Walleye Tournament on June 15; use of the north shore boat launch by the Bay de Noc Great Lakes Sports Fishermen for three walleye tournaments to be held May 26, Aug. 11, and Sept. 8; and use of the Karas Band Shell by Anytime Fitness for the 3rd Annual Youth Race on May 4.