By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
If you’ve never heard of the proposed plan for Boyne City to use state grant monies to purchase 60 boat slips from James Hevey’s Boyne Beach Club project you’re not alone.
The deal died in recent weeks before it ever had a chance to fully materialize publicly when city officials decided against further discussion on the matter.
“Basically he (Hevey) was looking to have us apply for a grant and commit with him at a certain point and the city hasn’t taken any action to move forward with that,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain.
The Boyne Beach Club is a stalled development across the street from Glen’s Market in Boyne City which is owned by Devlon Properties.
Cain said the major issues preventing the Boyne City Commission from signing off on the deal included the location of the marina and the fact that the city has its own potential marina expansion project in the works.
“They felt the existing location of our marina is better that what was being proposed,” Cain said. “The way I interpreted it is the commissioners felt this matter would be better served by letting the private sector deal with it if there is enough interest to make this a viable project.”
According to Hevey, he and the city had been working on the proposed deal for nearly nine months. Cain said he was unsure as to how long they had been in discussions.
“Back in summer (2012) we had meetings in Traverse City in their attorney’s law office with myself, the city’s attorney, Mike Cain, and Barb Brooks (Boyne City Harbor Master) and they were very interested in entertaining a joint public-private marina on my property because it was already approved,” Hevey said. “Until a week or so ago when Mr. Cain called me to confirm that the state trust fund grant could be applied for to pay for up to 75 percent of the cost.”
Hevey added, “He said the good news was the grant was available (to be applied for) but the bad news was the city commission was no longer interested.”
Several months ago the city commission approved a motion to begin working through the permitting process necessary to expand the first phase of the city’s municipal marina.
Included in the phase one plan are plans for repairs to existing marina facilities and what Cain referred to as a “minor” extension of the existing city shoppers’ docks.
The grant monies are already in place and, if the permit process goes well, construction could begin in the next year or so.
“The city has had their marina plan fail to get approval three times,” Hevey said. “It took me five years and probably close to $400,000 in consulting fees to get mine approved.”
Hevey said he attempted to talk to Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch but was told by Cain that he had no interest in discussing the matter further.
“He said the mayor would not talk to me directly so I said ‘fine’ put me on the agenda—I’m probably one of the top taxpayers in the city and I would like to be on the agenda to talk to the taxpayers and the commission directly,” Hevey said. “He said there is no way he would put me on the agenda.”
According to Hevey, Cain told him he could speak for up to five minutes during the public comment portion of a meeting.
“I’m working all over the country—I can’t spend thousands of dollars to come for five minutes,” Hevey said. “I just wanted the taxpayers to know that we put together a project that would have given the city almost a free marina.”
Hevey said the city would probably have had to put in $700,000 but would have gotten a $3 million marina.
“The city and the people want the property cleaned up, and here’s an opportunity to do it,” Hevey said. “I was going to change the shorline from condos to individual lots like One Water Street. This would have gotten the whole thing built out and moving.”
Grunch said it was true that he had no interest in discussing the matter with Hevey.
“I think the free enterprise system should prevail,” Grunch said. “Boyne City is working on a permit for our own marina. The location (of Hevey’s boat slips) is not where I think it should be.”
Both Grunch and Cain said they feel the city is able to handle the need for boat slips with the current demand.
Cain said the potential for the use of Michigan DNR Trust Fund grants was only mentioned in recent weeks.
“Prior to that some other scenarios were mentioned but those did not seem to pan out,” Cain said.
Hevey said he will continue to look for a private option if the city remains uninterested in his deal.
“I have done everything and spent a fortune trying to get this marina done. I certainly don’t want this to become the Petoskey hole of Boyne City,” Hevey said. “It’s a shame that it wouldn’t get utilized by people and the city and all the commerce is could create.”
He added, “I don’t want citizens driving by that fence and thinking ‘That SOB isn’t doing anything.’ Because, I am.”