USA: KLHA Meets with Key State and Federal Officials

Members of the recently appointed Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority (KLHA) met with approximately 27 key state and Federal officials in Kalamazoo, Mich., on June 28, 2012 to discuss the dredging challenges facing the Saugatuck-Douglas harbor.

The intent of the meeting was to fully brief these officials on the conditions within the harbor and engage their departments in partnering with the Harbor Authority to find creative solutions to the complex problems facing the two communities. According to Bob Sapita, Chairman, KLHA, “It was extremely encouraging to see the overwhelming participation and support from all of the key agencies who gathered to discuss the restoration of our harbor.”

The meeting organized by ECT, a brownfield development specialist and Edgewater Resources, a waterfront and harbor development consulting firm, both recently hired by the Harbor Authority, was held at the South West Michigan Innovation Center in Kalamazoo, Mich., to provide a central location for participants traveling from various areas of the state. Keynote speakers included Patricia Birkholz, Director MDEQ, Office of the Great Lakes who spoke about “Areas of Concern” across Michigan and the cleanup efforts in progress; Matt Doss, policy Director Great Lakes Commission who gave a regional perspective on restoration and revitalization of “Areas of Concern”; and Dave Knight, Ports and Navigation Specialist , Great Lakes Commission who talked about the need to develop alternative methods of financing the dredging and maintenance of small harbors.

Speaking on behalf of the Saugatuck-Douglas Harbor Authority were Robert Sapita, Chairman of the KLHA who gave an overview of the many dredging and sediment disposal problems facing the communities of Saugatuck and Douglas that led to collaboration between the two cities and the formation of a Harbor Authority; and Felicia Fairchild, Authority board member and Executive Director, Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau who addressed the economic impact of the harbor on tourism and local real estate values. Consultant Greg Weykamp, Edgewater Resources, discussed the impact on the local boating industry and John D’Addona, ECT Environmental Consulting Technologies, discussed water quality management and the Tower Marine brownfield site.

Various agency representatives with hands-on experience in dealing with the Kalamazoo Lake and its sedimentation problems also gave their perspectives on the challenges involved in addressing these harbor issues. First to speak was Kam Jourdan, District Supervisor MDEQ Water Resources Division; followed by Daria Devantier, Unit Chief, Superfund Site Assessment- MDEQ Management Team; Jim Saric, Remedial Project Manager, Kalamazoo River Superfund Site- EPA Superfund Team and MDEQ Remediation Team Frank Ballo, District Supervisor, Kalamazoo and Ben Zimont, Environmental Quality Analyst.

James Goodheart, Executive Division of the DEQ and Special Assistant to the Governor, delivered a compelling message of support And encouragement to the Cities of Saugatuck and Douglas for their determination to lead the way in pioneering new solutions to approaching the maintenance issues facing so many harbors in the state. “Your message is being heard in the Governor’s office.” he said.

Guest Legislators present who spoke in support of aggressive measures to find sustainable solutions included Robert Genetski, State Representative, 88th District, and Ed Sackley, Special Assistant to Congressman Fred Upton. Also present were Lisa Greenwood and Pat Burroughs, KLHA board members. RJ Peterson, private stakeholder, represented Tower Marine in Douglas, Michigan.

Felicia Fairchild, KLHA board member, summarized the objective of the half day workshop saying, “Our problems are severe and complicated.” She continued, “We have invited you here today to ask you to join us in a collaborative effort to find creative sustainable solutions to our challenges. I believe that we are the poster child for the current dredging crisis and I am confident that if the ‘brain trust’ within this room can help us solve our problems, we will become the prototype for helping other troubled harbors throughout the Great Lakes.”

Dredging Today Staff, July 8, 2012;

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