Traverse City News and Events

Commissioners Reject Changes To Marina Parking

By Beth Milligan | July 16, 2019

Traverse City commissioners Monday rejected a proposal that would have cut down on the number of parking spaces for slip holders at the Duncan L. Clinch Marina.

Commissioner Brian McGillivary proposed reducing the number of parking permits for seasonal slip holders from two to one. He had originally also proposed eliminating permits entirely for transient slip holders, but said Monday he received emails from transient users that helped him better understand the need for transient parking and thus to change his mind about that proposed change.

"I just see parking as such a premium in the city, and I just don't see why we're giving away two parking spaces per slip," he said of seasonal slip holders. "By reducing it to one, it would seem that every slip holder would have a better chance of being (able to get) at least one parking space down there...we do not have enough parking spaces to accommodate two spots per slip."

Other commissioners expressed initial support for McGillivary's proposed reduction, but changed course after multiple slip holders criticized the move during public comment. Slip holders pointed to the high fees they pay to use seasonal slips at the marina, the fact that some of them use their boats as summer homes and thus need to be able to come and go with ease from the parking lot, the ability to quickly take cover in a vehicle when the weather turns, and being able to move guests and supplies into their boat from the parking lot as reasons why two spaces were needed per slip.

Several commissioners noted the city and Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will be meeting soon to discuss a new parking deck downtown and suggested any potential changes to marina parking be included in a larger conversation about overall parking needs throughout downtown. "I just think making a decision about this is premature and causing a whole bunch of heartache for something that we just quite honestly don't have enough info to decide right now," said Commissioner Michele Howard. "Let's just wait and see the whole picture."

McGillivary and Commissioner Tim Werner were the sole 'yes' votes for reducing the number of marina permits issued to seasonal slip holders, while the remaining five commissioners opposed the motion. Werner said Traverse City will struggle with parking for as long as it continues to subsidize its parking system by charging drivers below-market rate for spaces. He said the issue wasn't that Traverse City lacked parking, but that it undersold the parking it did have, driving up demand.

"I disagree...that we don't have enough parking," Werner said. "We don't have enough parking because it's too inexpensive. If I were to say, 'I'm going to give away ice cream cones or sell them for ten cents a piece, I would probably not have enough ice cream...if we charged appropriate rates for parking, we would have enough parking."

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