Consideration needed in dock expansion projects

This area’s most precious and most important natural resource is undeniably the water. In fact, that can be said of the entire state.
Aug 18, 2014


With it comes boats, fishing, and other forms of water fun and uses. With the economy back in stride, boaters say local marinas are at or near capacity.
How to meet the demand without surrendering too much of our precious resource is the trick. And that’s where government regulation has to balance the interests of the general public with those of marinas and boaters.
Barrett Boat Works has long wanted to add three docks of up to 291 feet and a fourth for services from its marina into Spring Lake. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had initially denied issuing a permit for the project, but that was overturned and the state agency ended up issuing a permit for it four years ago.
However, last month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shot down the long-standing plan. According to Katie Otanez, regulatory project manager for the corps’ Detroit District, the denial was “based on adverse impact to navigation and safety.”
Before making its decision, the Corps of Engineers said it took into consideration more than 50 comments from the public.
While we agree that boating is a big part of our local economy and should be accommodated, it shouldn’t be at the expense of giving away public waterways. 
There may be other options that should be more fully explored before building more and longer docks. Perhaps more in-and-out boat services? More and easier-to-use launch sites? How about expanding the parking areas for boaters that launch at Harbor Island?
What we can’t tolerate is using up the navigable waterway itself — the very water the boaters use — just to provide more places to dock.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty, Mark Brooky and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



What's the point of this article?

Barrett's wants to grow their business. Their business is boat slips.
Wanna grow? Add more boat slips.

The governmental regulation system caught on that adding these new slips would cause issues for navigation. 100% agree with that.

The system worked in this instance.

As for Barrett's they can always devise another plan, possibly with less slips, or a different configuration that the engineers will approve, and I'm ok with that as well.

This article is silly and not relevant!


I believe the original approval for expansion was based on Barrett's using the 200+ feet of frontage from the Stalec property. That property was sold to someone else and now has two houses on it.


So, the project was shot down “based on adverse impact to navigation and safety.” That makes absolutely no sense. If anything, the bridge between Old Boys and the Holiday Inn is the navigational and safety issue. There is all kinds of room headed west to navigate in front of Barrett's, but the bridge becomes the bottle-neck. If anything, if Barrett's took up a little more space with slips, boaters would line up a bit sooner to get under the bridge.

The person that rejected the request needs to go for a boat ride with us sometime.

On a related note, the Spring Lake Yacht Club Property that was given to the township and requested that it be available to the public should be developed further. Continue the lease with the SLYC, but put in a restaurant, additional boat parking, general store, beach, etc. Spring Lake could really benefit from something like that.


The bridge can be a pain, but that is not going to change.

But I can see the navigational issues. The gas dock is right at the end of B dock. Boats currently pile up there on busy days and just float out right into the navigable water way.

My boat is on B dock, and I can't even tell you how many times I've had to yell at some dude who's just floating around blocking traffic for me to get into or out of the slip.

And I think the plan Barretts submitted included an extension of B and C.
My guess is they will rethink their plan and submit a new one that's a tad less intrusive towards the navigable travel way and they will probably get approved.


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