MUSKEGON, MI – Cost savings on waterfront restoration on a dozen sites along Muskegon Lake’s south shore will allow for more environmental work to be done this summer.
The $10 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant will now pay for work along the Lakeshore Trail bike path below Lakeshore Drive. The work will be along the city of Muskegon-owned waterfront property from the Lakeshore Yacht Harbour on the east to the former Amoco tank farm property on the west.
The Muskegon City Commission unanimously approved the shoreline restoration work earlier this week. No city funds are needed for the project.
The work will improve the views along the bike path and provide a more natural shoreline environment for fish and wildlife, according to project manager Kathy Evans – an environmental planner for the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission. WMRDC is managing the grant that was obtained by the Great Lakes Commission.
The 2009 NOAA grant has restored a dozen sites along the lakeshore from private residences on Edgewater Street on the west end of the lake to the city’s Richard’s Park on the east end. Major work was done on the Grand Trunk dock property in the Lakeside Neighborhood and the Ryerson Creek area just northeast of downtown Muskegon.
The grant work will be done this construction season, Evans said. The lakeshore restoration project fund has less than $1 million left, she said. Those funds are being used by environmental engineers J.F. New to design the work below Lakeshore Drive. Project officials will put the restoration work out for bids in the coming weeks.
“The work will be done this summer,” Evans told city commissioners. “We understand that the bike path is there and we will do the work so as not to interrupt its use.”
Invasive plants, non-native trees, broken concrete and the waste wood buried along the shoreline from the Lumber Era will all be removed. The site will be replanted with native wetland plants, shrubs and trees, Evans said.
Property owners having sites improved with the NOAA funds agree to a conservation easement that keeps the shoreline natural. The city site below Lakeshore Drive will have areas not restored so that in the future the city can build fishing piers or walkways from the trail to the water’s edge, Evans said.
The goal of the Muskegon Lake restoration work is to improve the recreational use of the shoreline, improve the aesthetics and create a more natural habitat for fish and wildlife. In the long term, the environmental cleanup work is to ultimately remove Muskegon Lake from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “area of concern” list of contaminated areas.
The city owns 34.6 acres of land in a narrow strip between the base of the hill along Lakeshore Drive and the water’s edge. The Lakeshore Trail bike path follows the city property along with railroad tracks that once served the former Sappi paper mill facility to the west.
The city owns the contaminated former Amoco property immediately to the west, a site that continues to be cleaned of petroleum. The oil company property was purchased through the proceeds of the city’s sale of the Chase Hammond Golf Course, funds that built the Lakeshore Trail bike and pedestrian pathway, city officials said.
The NOAA lakeshore restoration grant already has provided the funds for an extensive cleanup of the shoreline of the Amoco property.
The city purchased two acres immediately east of the Amoco property in 1998 from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County for $18,000 as part of the bike path project. The remainder of the wetlands owned by the city has been in public hands for decades. City officials said they do know the history of how the city obtained the site.
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