City officials are looking at changing the mooring policy to place limits on how long a boat can be docked there, as well as a possible fee structure.
“We’ve had a considerable amount of vessels that would take advantage of it,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.
Mayor Geri McCaleb said there are places for boaters who want to stay longer than a day in Grand Haven’s downtown.
“If you want to moor your boat for a long period, we have docks (at the Municipal Marina),” McCaleb said.
The city currently has no teeth to restrict boaters from docking along the wall for lengthy stays.
“There is no policy — so we can’t say, ‘You can’t do that,'" McCaleb said. "It’s free and you just park your boat there. "
McCaleb said she is hopeful the city's Harbor Board recommends a policy to City Council that would permit short-term boat mooring, but discourages long-term use.
"It’d be good to have a policy in place, and I am looking forward to what the board will do,” she said.
Local boater Bruce Williams said that if the city were going to change its policy and start charging fees to dock along the wall, he would like to see them provide amenities such as power outlets.
Williams also said that there are many times when conditions don’t allow for tying off along the wall.
“There’re so many times that it’s rough out here that it’s rare there’s times like this that you can pull up,” he said on a recent calm day. ”You’re rocking too much to do anything.”
The Williamses said they try to frequent the wall with their boat whenever possible.
“It’s just fun to sit and people watch,” Karen Williams said.
Both McCaleb and McGinnis noted that the boardwalk seawall is something that should be available for people who are visiting Grand Haven.
“That’s the kind of thing we are trying to encourage,” McCaleb said.
According to McGinnis, one of the options being considered is a fee that would be charged to overnight boaters.
“Talking about it with the Harbor Board is the first step,” he said.
The final step would involve including a nightly fee in the 2013-14 city budget for overnight seawall parking, along with discussing who would enforce the policy.
McGinnis said the Harbor Board is planning some investments to the seawall designed to protect boats from being damaged while they are tied along it. He said a docking fee could help the city recoup costs for installing the protection.