Dock of the Bay: Gladstone harbor gets upgrade

GLADSTONE – New docks were installed at the Gladstone Harbor Tuesday. The previous docking system had been a feature of the harbor since 1980.

With the new docks installed, the city plans to open the harbor for use at the beginning of next month.

“We’re shooting for June 1 with the utilities to follow, and so far it looks like everything is on schedule,” said Nicole Sanderson, director of Gladstone Parks and Recreation.

The harbor now includes 16 new docks, providing 32 slips for boaters. The new docks were built and installed by Flotation Docking Systems, Inc. of Cedarville, Mich.

“They actually built us the docks offsite and they put them in the water. They bolt them together and float them over to where they need to be,” said Sanderson.

Four existing docks, providing seven slips, remain at the harbor and will be used for transient boaters.

Boaters who have previously leased slips in the harbor will be assigned new slips at locations near their previous slips.

“We just went down the list and placed them where they were in the old harbor,” said Sanderson.

Boat length is also figured into the new slip assignments. However, reassignments may be needed depending on the needs of boaters and the requirements of their specific boats.

“It’s kind of a process getting everybody into the slips they need to be in,” said Sanderson.

The previous dock system used in the harbor involved docks being attached to telescoping poles. This allowed the docks to rise and fall freely with changes in water levels and the docks to be removed in the winter.

For the new harbor, a removable deicing system comprised of 12 aerators will be used. The aerators will be placed underwater for the winter months and removed in the spring.

The system may also be used to aerate the water during warmer months if needed.

“They’ll be run off solar, and will basically create a current so things don’t freeze,” said Sanderson. “They won’t hinder or be attached to the docks year round.”

The total cost of rebuilding the harbor is $450,000. A Michigan Waterways Program Grant will cover $225,000 of the project and $100,000 will be paid by the Gladstone Downtown Development Association. The remaining $125,000 will be paid through user fees.

“It’s not being paid for by tax dollars,” explained Sanderson.

Delays in the grant process almost prevented the new docks from being installed in the harbor. However, the city and the dock construction company managed to work around the delays.

“It was late getting it to (Flotation Docking Systems, Inc.) with the grant process, and they said, ‘You know what? We’re going to do it this year,'” said Sanderson.

The rebuild delayed the harbor’s opening day by just more than two weeks.

“The other harbor was (built) 30 years ago. We regret that we had to inconvenience people for 15 days – normally we open on May 15 – but hopefully we won’t have to do this again for another 30 years,” said Sanderson.

Also included in the new harbor plan are lighting, sidewalks, electrical and infrastructure upgrades.

“The infrastructure will support any future development done there,” said Sanderson. “We’re building for now; planning for the future.”