In the July 28 edition of the Grand Haven Tribune, the Board of Light & Power provided an update on the closure of the coal ash impoundments at the recently retired J.B. Sims Power Plant on Harbor Island. However, Harbor Island was not really an island 100 years ago; it was more a delta of the Grand River that the community made into an island.
This site, prior to the construction of the power plant, was used as the old city dump for decades as well as for the placement of material dredged from the Grand River. Historical photos attest that the island had previous other industrial uses including coal storage, distribution and ash disposal for industries and homes in the area. When the coal plant was built in 1960, local leaders planned to use coal ash as beneficial fill from Units 1 and 2. This was explained in the Feb. 7, 1958, Grand Haven Tribune, stating that “ash fill from the steam plant will gradually eliminate the marshy areas on the island. Additional fill will be provided by the city dump, the boundaries of which can be shifted. ‘Made’ land of this character has infinite possibilities.”