The city’s Harbor Board developed the harbor user survey. The board sent the survey to local marinas for boaters to fill out.
“We’ve got six to seven marinas in the area that all utilize Grand Haven’s harbor,” Harbor Board Chairman Mike Cramer said. “We sent out several hundred (surveys).”
Cramer said he was pleased with the return of nearly 80 surveys.
Grand Haven Mayor Geri McCaleb said the harbor is so popular that in order to stay viable, they have to work on the projects that they can within the city's budget.
“Our harbors are a part of who we are, so we’ve got to take care of them,” she said.
One of the areas survey users said needs attention is along the Grand River seawall between the Municipal Marina and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office. Cramer said users suggested they’d like to see the city invest in safer alternatives for mooring boats in that area, as well as easier ways for people to get in and out of their boats.
“I never tie up my boat down there,” Cramer said. “When the weather changes, you can get fairly banged up down there.”
The results also indicated that about 85 percent of those who moor along the seawall do so to visit Grand Haven restaurants.
“The thing that surprised me the most was that people using the breakwall aren’t visitors,” McCaleb said.
Instead, wall visitors will often boat to downtown Grand Haven instead of driving from marinas upstream and across the river, Cramer said.
Cramer said the No. 1 issue at Chinook Pier was trouble for small boat access. He said users would like to see more space for small craft and dinghy access to that area.
The survey also looked at the Harbor Island boat launch, an area where McCaleb said she would like to see more surveys distributed. Only 33 surveys completed the Harbor Island boat launch portion.
“The biggest thing there is that the channel depth is at 3.5 feet,” Cramer said, noting that depth issues will be addressed in the coming months when the city dredges the area.
Other items suggested by boaters at the island launch include adding lit channel buoys, adding lights to the ends of the launch piers and shielding parking lot lights to prevent reflection on the water.