Grand Haven says no to new fish cleaning station

Alex Doty • Jan 19, 2017 at 12:00 PM

City Council is saying “thanks, but no thanks” to grant money that would have helped the city build a new fish cleaning station on Harbor Island.

“It’s a worthy project, but it’s the wrong time,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said of the project.

The city was notified late last year by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust Board of Trustees that it had been selected for an $85,000 grant to help pay for the project.

“This has been a City Council goal for a while now,” said Vester Davis, assistant to the city manager. “Finally, we got to a point where we saw some grant funds available.”

The cost of the project has been a sticking point with council members. The original estimated price was $270,250, with the grant reducing the city's required match to $185,250. The city had also received word that the Grand Haven Steelheaders would contribute funding to the project. 

Original plans for the station called for eight cleaning tables — including two ADA-accessible tables, commercial sprayers, draining racks and cutting boards to provide anglers with necessary support to clean their catch. The city would have relied on a refrigerated disposal system in lieu of a grinder connected to the sanitary sewer due to sewer limitations at Harbor Island.

Davis said the city was able to reduce the cost by removing some of the cleaning tables and shrinking the building’s footprint.

“We got to about $20,000 in reducing those costs and figures,” Davis explained. “But doing the math, it’s still quite a price tag for doing the fish cleaning station.”

With the reductions, the city would’ve needed to rely on $140,000 from city funds to construct the station, and come up with another $6,000 annually to pay for the fish waste removal.

“This doesn’t look a whole lot better to me this time around than the first time around,” McCaleb said. “It’s a lot of work.”

Roger Belter, president of the Steelheaders, said he is hopeful that the city would pursue the fish cleaning station again at some point, but he’s understanding of the city’s current needs. He also said the cost to build the station is “very high.”

“We also have so many things going on in Grand Haven trying to raise money,” he said. “It may not be a good time to try and raise money for this.”

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