Need for a Community Harbor & Marina at the Discovery Center*
The Discovery Center serves a five-county region including Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Kalkaska, Benzie, and Antrim Counties. Within this region are some of Michigan’s most beautiful waters – lakes, rivers, and streams – including more than 130 miles of Grand Traverse Bay shoreline, and a total of 132 miles of Lake Michigan frontage. The region is renowned for its water-based recreation activities, from boating and sailing, to kayaking and paddle boarding, to kite boarding and fishing. Those who experience its waters, together with good role models and mentors, learn water stewardship through appreciation born from experiences. But, with 47% of this region’s children economically disadvantaged (eligible for free and reduced lunch according to the Traverse Bay Intermediate School District), access to these activities is severely limited due to cost prohibitions. This not only impacts the ability of these children and the adults in their lives to enjoy and appreciate the water resources of this region, but also hampers development of their role as its stewards.
Discovery Center Community Harbor & Marina
The Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes proposes, as a component of its mission, to develop the Discovery Center Community Harbor & Marina as a way for people to overcome these barriers. The Harbor will specifically address the needs of our community’s disadvantaged people, and the Marina will become a social enterprise with public-private partnerships that will meet the needs of the larger community while providing a sustainable business model. The Discovery Center is uniquely qualified and positioned to provide this solution.
Market-Based Business Model with a Charitable Mission
There is great demand for access to Michigan’s waters. The Community Harbor & Marina will respond to this demand while significantly increasing water-based educational opportunities in the areas of maritime history, environmental stewardship, and boating, with programs and pricing structured to ensure access for the full breadth of economic diversity in our community.
To achieve this business model, the Community Marina will incentivize leasing agreements with charter boat companies to ensure their participation in Discovery Center organized activities that provide access to their water-based services for economically disadvantaged families and children, thus providing these experiences to those who could not otherwise afford them. In addition, the leases with private boat owners will be incentivized to encourage their active participation as volunteers and mentors in Discovery Center programs and activities. The goal will be to create a Community Marina that includes socially responsible members who collectively work to further the mission of the Discovery Center while enjoying their personal and professional water-based activities. The Discovery Center will leverage demand for its new Marina development to select members who desire to have this rewarding dual purpose in their lives. This will create earned revenue for the Discovery Center that is based specifically and directly on its mission-related activity.
*Discovery Center Great Lakes is the shared home of water-related nonprofit organizations.
•The Maritime Heritage Alliance supports an active workshop for historic boat building as well as a sailing mentoring program for at-risk youth and charter cruises aboard the cutter Champion.
•The eco-friendly offices of the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay offer information on how to get involved with watershed protection including the Adopt-a-Stream program and volunteer water quality monitoring in the Grand Traverse Bay area.
•The Great Lakes Children’s Museum, serves 30,000 visitors each year, with two galleries of hands-on, interactive water-related exhibits for children and their families and caregivers. The Museum also offers various special programs and school study trips throughout the year.
•Traverse Area Community Sailing has future plans to use the bay front for intermediate sailing instruction. Currently they offer beginning sailing instruction for youth ages 8-17 and adults on Boardman Lake.
Together, the four partner organizations are working to make the Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes a valuable community resource and a preeminent cultural, recreational and educational attraction. We are creating a place that will awaken a sense of wonder in people of all ages by encouraging understanding and stewardship of Grand Traverse Bay.
Here is a link to view the presentation to TCLP = Traverse City Light and Power:
On December 10, 2013 the Discovery Center ~ Great Lakes brought an exciting proposal to the Traverse City Light & Power Board. This proposal has huge potential economic, recreational, educational and cultural benefits to the residents and visitors of our region as an ACTIVE working waterfront with offerings such as:
•Major waterfront attraction – economic driver
•Port of call for cruise ships and excursion boats
•Public Fishing Pier
•Base for Fishing Charter fleet
•Base for Tall Ship fleet
•Water Taxi to Power Island and Clinch Park
•Scuba Diving Charters
•TACS High School Sailing Team practice base
•Bareboat Sailing Charters and Sailing School
•Access to boating through rentals, charters, memberships
•Pedestrian access point to the water
•Environmental and scientific learning opportunities
•Recreational activities for all ages and capabilities
•Maritime history education
•Community events like regattas, fishing derbies and Kid’s Free Fishing Day
•Expanded Discovery Center Member Non-Profit Programs and offerings
•118 Market Rate Rental slips that generates the revenue to support all this.