Project Rising Tide grant will fund canoe launch construction
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The State of Michigan and the City of Grayling are partnering to provide a public access where residents and visitors can launch their canoes for trips down the AuSable River.
The City of Grayling had planned to create the canoe launch on the river by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab as part of the community’s parks and recreation plan. The crime lab building also served as the Grayling City Hall for several years until 2000, when the Michigan State Police leased all of the space for its use serving police agencies throughout the region.
Preliminary surveys and conceptual drawings were completed for the canoe launch.
The City of Grayling is designated as a Project Rising Tide community.
“Rising Tide is an initiative sponsored by the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development that provides communities with the tools to design and build a solid planning, zoning and economic development foundation to attract new businesses and help existing employers to grow,” according to michigan.gov.
Each of the 10 Project Rising Tide Communities in the state were recently awarded $200,000 grants to target “shovel ready projects” that had already been planned, said Grayling City Manager Doug Baum.
Erich Podjaske, the zoning administrator for the City of Grayling, said the project to build the canoe launch moved to the forefront.
“They gave us five days to come up with a project, and the canoe launch was what we decided on because I had already started doing the surveys in the previous year,” Podjaske said.
The city already had $40,000 in funds budgeted for upgrades and reconstruction of the parking lot at the crime lab, which will be used as a match toward the Project Rising Tide grant.
“This worked out great for the city because, one, the project needed to be done at the crime lab, and two, we already had the money set aside,” Baum said.
The Grayling City Council approved the local matching funds for the project at its meeting held on March 13.
The project will include 10-foot, barrier free, Americans with Disabilities Act compatible pedestrian pathway down to the canoe launch.
“You won’t be able to drive down,” Podjaske said. “You’ll have to walk down.”
Besides the privately owned canoe liveries and Department of Natural Resources maintained landing downstream from Grayling, there is no safe public access point where paddlers can access the AuSable River.
“It’s a public access point on a river that is known for canoeing and we don’t have any public access points at all,” Podjaske said. “It will be a way that everybody can get to the river and utilize it to tour and view the beautiful scenery.”
Podjaske said that the canoe launch would not be a place where people will spend a lot of time or loiter. Public meetings will be hosted by city officials to explain how the canoe launch will be utilized.
“This isn’t like a hangout park,” Podjaske said. “It will be for people to drop their canoes off, park their vehicles, go down the river and come back.”
City officials hope to start construction on the project this fall for next spring, depending on the environmental review process required to get permits.