City wins $85K grant for new fish cleaning station

Alex Doty • Dec 26, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Anglers who use Harbor Island as a launch point for fishing up and down the Grand River could soon have a new resource at their disposal.

The city was notified by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust Board of Trustees earlier this month that it had selected Grand Haven’s Harbor Island fish cleaning station project for an $85,000 grant.

“This was one of (City Council’s) goals from an earlier year,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “We continue to work toward it.”

The total estimated cost of construction is $270,250; the grant reduces the city's required match to $185,250.

McGinnis said the Grand Haven Steelheaders Association has done some preliminary fundraising, with a commitment to donate $10,000 so far.

“They’re willing to come on board and do some significant fundraising for us as we work toward this,” he added.

The new station would likely be built by the restroom facility near the Grand Valley State University dock. The station would have eight cleaning tables, including two ADA-accessible tables. It would be outfitted with commercial sprayers, draining racks and cutting boards to provide anglers with necessary support to conveniently clean their catch.

The cleaning station would differ from the one at Chinook Pier, in that it wouldn’t feature a sewer system-connected disposal to get rid of fish waste, and instead would rely on coolers where angers would deposit fish waste to be collected. McGinnis said members of City Council liked the concept after they saw a similar cleaning station in Ludington.

City officials say the reason for the different system is because the sewer system connection on the island wouldn’t be able to handle the setup that exists at Chinook Pier.

“There’s not enough sewer capacity to rebuild that sewer to a capacity that would serve this,” McGinnis said. “It would cost 10 times what we’re talking about here, so it’s just not worth looking at that.”

Before City Council signs the dotted line to accept the grant, its members would first like to get some questions answered.

“We have to know how we’re going to pay for the building and how we’re going to keep it going,” Councilman Bob Monetza said.

Monetza noted that the city doesn’t have any money budgeted for the plan, and said it’s “all listed as outside money from somewhere.”

“I’m a little concerned about funding the balance of this project,” he said.

Monetza is also concerned about the long-term funding for the station.

“Do we have any idea what it’s going to cost to operate this facility?” he asked. “There will be cost of operation … that’ll have to come out of our budget, as well.”

Councilman Josh Brugger pointed to the city’s long list of budget priorities — including Waterfront Stadium, the catwalk, the marina and Grand Landing — and wondered how the city would be able to justify funding a fish cleaning station, too.

“These are nice things to do, but they’re luxury items,” he said. “I don’t know if we need to spend more money on luxuries right now.”

Brugger said he would instead like to see those who would benefit from the station pitch in.

“That would lend more to the Steelheaders and those people who are going to really benefit from this thing coming forward saying, ‘We want this, and we’re chipping in for it,’” he said.

City Council postponed making a decision on accepting the grant for the fish cleaning station until its Jan. 3, 2017, meeting.

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