At the committee meeting on March 25, the Detroit Harbor Master Plan final draft was presented to the public by Ed Freer, plan consultant with SmithGroup JRR.
The Detroit Harbor Master Plan Committee, Naletta Burr of Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., and approximately 100 members of the public listened as Freer outlined the intent of the project: increase safety, use, and attractiveness of Detroit Harbor; support maritime-related businesses; promote tourism; attract private investment; improve public access to the water’s edge; evaluate water-based recreational opportunities including piers, launches, and marinas; identify and prioritize harbor improvements; and provide guidance for implementation and funding strategies.
For the purposes of the planning process, Detroit Harbor was defined as the shoreline and certain areas of nearby land from the Potato Dock to Shipyard Island Marina on South Shore Drive.
As part of the planning process, project goals were identified by the project team and the committee, these include: provide additional public access to the waterfront; communicate the identity and character of the Island to visitors; encourage and support an array of recreational activities within the harbor; create opportunities for more flexible transportation systems that operate without personal vehicles; provide opportunities to improve the economy of the Island and expand beyond the summer season.
Freer suggested that the plan be thought of as a “menu of ideas.” He said, “I personally hope this grows and changes and becomes better. If ideas are worthy and of interest, how do we make them happen? There are funding strategies and funding resources listed at the end of the master plan document.”
Freer took questions and comments from the public. Some people were concerned about eminent domain: the right of government to purchase private property for public. Freer stated several times that in his 35 years working in this field, he has never encouraged the aggressive taking of properties.
Freer remarked that of all the projects he has worked with, we have the least public access to the water. He also said that this project is, “not just about tourism, but to elevate the quality of our lives.”
The Detroit Harbor Enhancement Plan was uploaded on March 28 and can be seen at
By Patricia Hewitt
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