Catwalk fundraising steps up momentum

Alex Doty • Feb 25, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Organizers of the Save the Catwalk drive are working feverishly to get funding in place for the old structure before planned work takes place on the south pier later this year.

“Our D-Day for this, we’re really looking at July 1,” Save the Catwalk organizer Erin Turrell said. “We have to have a good amount of money in the coffers to raise this thing up.”

A staple on Grand Haven’s south pier since 1921, the catwalk has seen 95 winters of wind, waves and ice — all of which have taken a toll on the structure. Because of the work planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the catwalk must be temporarily lifted, or else be removed completely.

It’s estimated that to raise the structure up while the Corps of Engineers makes repairs to the pier could cost $200,000, but the true price tag won’t be known until bids are received.

“We should probably find out at the end of May or the first part of June,” Turrell said of the cost to raise the catwalk.

In all, Grand Haven’s catwalk is made up of 59 “bents,” or arches, each in a varying form of disrepair. Some need repair while others need to be replaced.

The current estimate to replace the necessary parts of the catwalk is $1.5 million, and Save the Catwalk committee members say they would like to get started on repairs soon, especially with the Corps of Engineers looking at a pier repair project to begin as soon as August.

It’s been noted that the repairs that do take place will likely be done in a piecemeal approach over several years due to the overall cost of the project.

The Save the Catwalk group has already started its fundraising effort, which kicked off with an event at the Fraternal Order of Eagles club in Grand Haven at the end of January.

“The fundraiser from the Eagles netted over $43,000. I’m so, so proud,” Turrell said. “I think a big shoutout needs to go to the Eagles for what they did.”

In all, it’s estimated that about 800 people came through the door for the fundraiser, noted Turrell.

“I’m really happy we had such a good start,” she said. “We’re looking forward to the next one.”

Future fundraising options being considerered include placing donation lockboxes around town, hosting additional fundraising-style events, working with Grand Haven schools, partnering with merchants, and launching a crowdfunding website this spring.

“I feel like we have a good direction for what we want to do, and have a lot of support,” Turrell said.

The Save the Catwalk group has established several avenues for donations, and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation has a fund established to handle the administration of project money.

“The best way is to go to the community foundation website,” Turrell said. “If they go to the donation page, there’s a drop-down box that says ’catwalk.’”

Turrell noted that there are also brochures available at City Hall, the community foundation’s office, the Chamber of Commerce office in Grand Haven, and the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. These brochures have forms for making a donation to the fund.

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