Harbor dredging to start next week

ESCANABA – Dredging of the Escanaba harbor is expected to begin next week with the cost of the project being fully funded by the Department of Natural Resources. The Escanaba City Council awarded the bid for the work at Thursday’s regular meeting.

“Funds for this project have been made available through a grant from the Michigan DNR so there are no local costs,” explained City Manager Jim O’Toole.

Monies for the plans, permits, and actual dredging are coming from a DNR Waterways Grant Agreement which the city and DNR entered into last April. The agency agreed to pay 100 percent of the project costs up to $270,000.

Council unanimously awarded the dredging bid to MCM Marine of Sault Ste. Marie in the approximate amount of $142,620. MCM was among nine contractors which submitted bids to remove about 14,000 cubic yards of sand from the harbor, said O’Toole.

Though the project falls under the emergency dredging grant, the work being done is not an emergency for the harbor, clarified Harbor Master Larry Gravatt after the meeting.

Gravatt explained the dredging is needed to remove sand from inside the harbor and to remove a sand bar that keeps washing down into the mouth of the harbor. The sand removal will improve boat traffic coming in and out of the marina, he said.

“The sand will be taken from four locations in the harbor area and placed on the municipal beach as beach enhancement,” Gravatt explained in a memo to council.

The project is scheduled to start Monday and be completed by no later than Oct. 30. The last time the harbor was dredged was about 11 years ago, said Gravatt.

In other action Thursday, council agreed to refund $30,000 to Bell’s Properties, LLC, which purchased city property to build a brewery and bottling company on Danforth Road in the Whitetail Industrial Park. Due to unfavorable ground conditions there, Bell’s Brewery moved its construction project to Renaissance Zone property by the airport.

Council also approved a resolution of support to place Escanaba’s downtown on the National Register of Historic Places. If approved by the National Park Service, the designation would allow property owners of 185 buildings to receive federal historic tax credits to upkeep their structures.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net