“I think we’re going to miss it,” the Grand Haven resident said. “It has been there a long time.”
According to a report issued by the city’s DPW during a Grand Haven City Council meeting in May, the Coast Guard boat was deteriorating and the cost to restore it ranged from $35,000 to $120,000.
City officials decided in May to move the boat, and it is a part of the city’s 2011-12 budget. City officials held off on removing it until after the summer tourism season.
City Manager Pat McGinnis said moving the boat to the Muskegon museum will allow it to receive proper care and save the city the cost of shrink wrapping it for the winter.
“They’ll take care of it, and probably get it freshened up and get it out on display,” he said. “So it will have a good home.”
While Grand Haven might be missing a Coast Guard landmark, city officials say work is under way to get a new icon for the intersection. McGinnis said removing the Coast Guard boat was the first step in executing that plan to put something new at the site.
“City Council hasn’t given any definite direction, but I think a replacement Coast Guard icon of some sort would be in order,” McGinnis said. “So we’re open to ideas and we’re looking for any help the community has to offer.”
McGinnis said there is a local retired military chiefs association that is looking to get a 41-foot replacement boat. He said they are looking for something more resilient and that could be there long-term, and one that — unlike the surf boat removed Wednesday — actually was used by the Coast Guard in Grand Haven.
“We’re hoping whatever asset we do get is something that served in Grand Haven at one time,” McGinnis said.
Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival Executive Director Mike Smith, a retired Coast Guard commander, said he was disappointed in the decision to move the boat from Grand Haven. He said it didn’t appear the city was “putting its best foot forward.”
“In my opinion, the move without a plan for a replacement right away is an insult to all those who support Grand Haven as Coast Guard City USA,” Smith said.
Smith also said moving the boat without an immediate replacement does nothing to enhance the city’s reputation among other Coast Guard cities.
According to Smith, the boat was placed at the intersection in the early 1990s; and it has appeared on many publications and websites, including the summer 2011 issue of the Quarterdeck Log, a membership publication of the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association, and the official Coast Guard Cities website at http://www.uscg.mil/community/Coast_Guard_Cities.asp.
“The visual entry into our city is gone,” Smith added.
Wezeman also was hopeful that whatever was put at the corner would be something worthwhile to residents.
“I hope they put something there that is as interesting as the boat was,” she said.
To see more photos of the move, click here.