Resolve issue over docks

Regulations are often needed, but at times the red tape must be rolled up to streamline a process in the face of unusual circumstances.
Mar 15, 2013


Case at present is speeding up the process for marinas to make changes, like floating docks, to compensate for the historically low water levels we are experiencing.

And we don’t have much time.

The boating season is fast approaching and many docks at area marinas are much higher above the water than when boats were taken out last fall.

Many marinas will be lowering their docks to 4 feet or so off the water.

Some, like Randy Styburski, general manager of Barrett Boat Works in Spring Lake, would like to solve the problem with more floating docks. Floating docks are a platform or ramp supported by pontoons, and usually held in place by vertical poles.

Lowering the docks is not a cure-all like floating docks.

Standing in the way of floating docks is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Styburski said they've been working for seven years to get the permit from the corps.

“We can’t seem to get their approval,” he said.

This is totally ridiculous. It’s time for the Corps of Engineers to get together with marina owners and work something out.

And it looks like no immediate relief is in sight for the low-water problems.

Water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron edged up in February from the previous month's record lows. But they and other Great Lakes will remain far below average in the months ahead — and that means continued, significant impacts to commercial shipping and recreational boating, a Corps of Engineers forecaster said recently.

Some wet weather and freeze-thaw cycles that created runoff helped water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron rise 2 inches in February, to 576.2 feet, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Army Corps of Engineers' Detroit District. But that's still a foot lower than historical averages, he added.

All of the Great Lakes remain below their long-term average, and all are forecast to remain that way at least over the next six months, Kompoltowicz said.

It’s time for the Corps of Engineers and marina owners to join forces and make area docks more accommodating.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung 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.



Talk about working the media for some free press to push your agenda. The low water has nothing to do with Barretts new floating dock plans. Barrett's owner want to add 200 slips out into Spring Lake. They claim they have a waiting list for slip customers. The truth is,there is no waiting list. The reason the state keeps turning them down is because it would interfere with boat traffic on that part of Spring lake. It's nothing more than a
terratorial water grab. Barretts can't fill the slips they have now.


If that is true Seacruiser, then the Tribune has not done their job investigating b4 punching out this opinion. And that would never happen! No wonder they put anonymous on the article. Come on trib, did you even ask Barretts if it was to replace docks or add to the existing docks? Did you contact the LOCAL Corps of Engineers to ask them ANY questions pertinent to this opine? (FYI, they have an actual building right here in town you could walk to and talk to an actual person who knows something about this)


Seacruiser by stating that "the low water has nothing to do with Barretts new floating dock plans" is a huge assumption on your part. How in the world would you know? If they want to expand their marina (which I hope that they will be able to do) doesn't mean that they don't want to upgrade their current docks. The same owner owns North Shore Marina and they have fantastic floating docks, we know because we've been at North Shore for 10 years on those docks. Nothing compares to the accessibility that floating dock offer and that equals safety. When our children were young, they never fell in at the marina and I think that is because of the docking system. IF Barretts wants to upgrade their marina, they should be able to do it. It doesn't surprise me at all that an arm of the Gov't is preventing progress, They want as much control as they can get.


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