Leelanau News and Events

Cedar River Marina Project Gets House and Senate Support

By Emily Tyra | March 16, 2020

A supplemental funding plan giving a big financial boost to the Cedar River Marina Project in Leelanau County was approved by the Michigan House and Senate late last week. State Representative Jack O’Malley announced that Senate Bill 151 is on its way for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s sign-off.

The marina and village park along Victoria Creek – also known as Cedar River – is a primary local access point to Lake Leelanau for kayak, canoes, paddleboarders and other watercraft.

The Cedar River Marina Park Project will improve access for all to the three-mile river and wilderness sanctuary that winds into Lake Leelanau. The project’s goal is to enhance the watershed quality and fish habitat and provide the only truly universally accessible public water access in Leelanau County. 

Ray Pleva of Cedar, who has been instrumental in the grassroots improvement initiative for the park, walked through plans for a community marina on the site with Rep. O’Malley to help secure the possible funding. Pleva says eighty percent of the marina's usage will be for silent watersports.

“From the day I talked to him [O'Malley] to the day he called with the answer was 68 days,” Pleva tells The Ticker.

“This is going to be huge for the people of Cedar,” says O’Malley, who represents the 101st District, including Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties. “This project will improve access for people who want to enjoy the Cedar River and Lake Leelanau. It’s also going to have a beneficial impact on the economy, as locals and tourists will be more inclined to check out businesses and restaurants in downtown Cedar.”

Aaron Ackley, a Cedar resident since 2002, whose Big Cat Brewing Company is within steps of the proposed marina says, “There’s been a hunger for something to happen down there. As a community we have talked about it for some time.”

Plans include a new floating dock system, a boat wash station, an ADA-accessible kayak and canoe launch, a universal lift for boat access, rain gardens, a shaded pavilion, and more.

Local volunteers, in partnership with the Solon Township Board and Solon Township Parks, have been actively planning for three years, consulting with civil engineers, the DNR, regulatory agencies and stakeholders.

Pleva stresses that they have learned a lot since the township first dredged the river and installed a bridge over its waters back in 1983. “We are working with Mother Nature and the river basin to enhance our community park. We will create a new fish habitat with design help from wetland ecologists who worked on the Boardman River Project. We will control silt by using DEQ-approved fans at night to keep the silt in the center of the river.”

The Cedar Fire and Rescue Station will also have improved water access for its pumping trucks with a new hydrant available for use year-round.

Cedar native and Glen Lake High School grad Larry Fleis of Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering in Grand Rapids is the lead civil engineer on the project. Fleis is following in his dad Ed Fleis's footsteps, as Ed was the engineer who worked on the river project back in 1983. "Now it's his time," says Pleva. “His life and his heart are touched to this project.”

The first priority this spring is to remove the aging bridge and have it sandblasted and repainted red. “Got to have the Polish color,” says Pleva, who grew up in Leelanau’s Polish enclave working in both the meat market and cherry business. “If we painted it another color they’d run me out of town.” Next up will be ADA-accessible restrooms. Watch a short video highlighting the project here.



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