TRAVERSE CITY — Ryan Matuzak spent 15 years trying to bring a fish-cleaning station to the Grand Traverse Bay region.
The Grand Traverse Area Sport Fishing Association president is close to scaling that hurdle and getting his fish wish.
The Elmwood Township Marina Committee will meet Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. in the township hall to finalize plans for about $2.5 million in upgrades to its marina and boat launch. A modern fish cleaning station, the first on West Grand Traverse Bay, is among the planned amenities.
"It means a lot to the community, and a lot of anglers are really excited," said Matuzak, who also chairs the marina committee. "But it's just one thing we are doing at that site. We really feel that area is going to be someplace special."
Proposed amenities include a bathroom and laundry facility for boaters, a community meeting room, public rest rooms, a fishing pier along the southern breakwall, short-term shoppers docks, a boardwalk and other improvements for pedestrian access.
To make space, the township will cut car-with-boat trailer parking spaces by almost a third.
"We don't have adequate parking now, and that's the 100-pound gorilla in the living room," said Jack Kelly, township supervisor.
The township will need to obtain off-site parking to move the project along, Kelly said. The township recently offered to purchase the foreclosed Brewery Creek property for $400,000, but the Texas company that now owns the property declined. The site's location across M-22 from the marina and Greilickville Harbor Park makes it a logical spot for off-site parking, Kelly said. The township may make another offer.
The proposed new marina and recently renovated park are just part of the plans for the Greilickville commercial corridor, Kelly said. The township will embark this spring on a planning process to create a waterfront district with a distinctive streetscape, waterfront promenade and easier pedestrian access across M-22.
The township board will review the final marina plan on Jan. 9. If approved, the township will apply for grant funding from the Michigan Waterways Commission.
"Realistically, we don't expect any grant funding will be available from the state for the marina for three or five years," Kelly said. "As money becomes available we start the redevelopment in phases and use marina revenue for the local match."
The township does have a $45,000 grant for preliminary engineering on the fishing pier. Kelly said the fishing pier could be phase one, completed as early as 2014.
Matuzak said the marina and adjacent park will become a valued destination when the project is finished.
"This will be beneficial not only to the Elmwood Township community but the entire Grand Traverse region, and that is something to really get excited about," he said.