Leelanau News and Events

Northport Marina Readies For Upgrades

By Ross Boissoneau | March 10, 2023

A project to upgrade the boat launch and parking lot at Northport Marina will start as soon as the weather allows, according to Harbormaster Bill Rosemurgy. “We’re ready to start anytime, but right now there’s a large pile of snow in the lot,” he says.

The project includes resurfacing the parking lot as well as reconstructing the boat launch. The lot sits low enough that water often coats the surface. Record-high water levels in 2020 and 2021 exacerbated the problems, flooding the parking lot. While the water levels have receded since then, the village wants to address the problem to prevent any future recurrences, so the level of the lot will be raised to preclude future flooding.

At the same time, the current boat ramp will be taken out and rebuilt. “The boat launch has been a perennial problem,” notes Rosemurgy. “It’s coming apart and silts up. A little creek empties into it, which brings in waterfowl and fish, but also brings in silt. It creates a delta. We hope to redirect the silt.”

The reconstruction will mean putting in a coffer dam and then pumping water out, before dredging the area to remove the years of silt accumulation. Then it will need to dry out before pouring a new slab. An additional wall will be installed to help direct silt away from the ramp site once the coffer dam is removed.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will pay 49 percent of the project, with the Village Marina Fund responsible for 51 percent. The marina received three bids on the project: $1,052,745 from North Country Contracting, $976,808 from Elmer’s Crane and Dozer and $860,921 from Molon Excavating. Rosemurgy says the village accepted the bid from Molon.

The project will also enable the village to match the streetscaping to the rest of the downtown area. Northport previously installed brick pavers and new streetlights on Nagonaba Street. “This will allow us to do the same streetscape scheme” in the marina parking lot area, visually connecting the marina area with downtown.

Other plans call for upgrading the area to provide power for food trucks. “We have food trucks at festivals,” he says, including the popular Music in the Park series on Fridays at G.M. Dame Marina Park. He says the crowds this past year swelled beyond previous levels, and this will help enable patrons to more easily enjoy the proceedings. “Music in the Park is such a great event all summer long. Since coming out of COVID, attendance has exploded. We have to look at providing more services – staffing for garbage, crowd control.”

The plan – and hope – is to have the entire project completed by the end of May. “We can’t let it linger all summer. We hope to have it done by Memorial Day,” Rosemurgy says, when the village hosts its popular car show. Beginning in 1998, Northport Cars in the Park is the longest-running auto show in Leelanau County. It takes place each year on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

“We’ve got a lot to get done between now and then,” Rosemurgy admits. He hopes Mother Nature cooperates to enable the village to be ready for summer fun. “It all depends on the weather. There’s still a lot of snow – February was the longest shortest month of the year.”

Rosemurgy says the proceedings will be “fun to watch for locals,” but the work will preclude launches until it’s finished. “The boat launch is currently closed for the winter and will not reopen until the project is completed. We’re going to have some fishermen that aren’t happy this spring. We apologize in advance. But in the long run, like a lot of municipal projects, there’s pain when you’re going through it, but it’s good at the end.”


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