Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Brings Major Waterfront and Park Improvements to Petoskey

Spring is in full flower [like this watercolor by Bruce Love] at the Northern Michigan Artists Market and in our home town of Petoskey, Michigan. At the Market, that means new artists and lots of new artwork. In town, spring means that a slew of new boating, recreation and downtown enhancement projects are about to start. Whether you live here or are planning to visit us sometime this summer or even if you just love Petoskey and like to keep in touch, we thought you might like an update.

On the waterfront, the big news is a whole raft of improvements at the City's marina. The biggest change will be a fourth pier that will be built in the gap between the leftmost dock and the two on the right. This new pier will add forty-four additional boat slips. The plans for this summer also include renovation and expansion of the marina's service building. The shelter house will be relocated to allow for the expansion.

The Army Corps of Engineers has resumed its reconstruction of Petoskey's breakwall. [Watercolor by Karen Kubovchick] The outer portion was completely rebuilt last year and is a vast improvement. Rebuilding will continue moving down the breakwall all the way to the shore. This project will not only repair the damage caused a couple of years ago when ice and waves broke through the wall and created a huge gap but will rebuild the wall to correct years of wear and deterioration. It will also widen the wall and make it safer for all of the people who love to walk out on the breakwall and dive off into the harbor.

You probably know that the Bear River flows under the big bridge on US-31 just west of Downtown Petoskey, then under a bridge on Lake street and through a rocky channel next to City Hall, then empties into Lake Michigan in the Petoskey harbor. What you may not know is that before all this, the Bear flows through a beautiful wooded valley right in the middle of town. This scenic walking path is a local favorite and is actually a segment of the North Country Trail that runs all the way from Upstate New York to Central North Dakota. In mid-May, Petoskey will begin a major improvement project that will include the construction of walking trails, restrooms, picnic shelters, and improvements to the Bear River that will create a Class III whitewater rapids along the Bear River from Sherridan St. to Lake Michigan. Actually, preparatory work has been going on for a while but the major, visible enhancements will take place through this summer. I personally walk this trail frequently and I strongly recommend a visit to this tranquil oasis. The improvements should make this walk even more pleasant and will make more people aware of its existence and beauty.

As I discuss in the latest issue of the Artists Market's email newsletter, Art Up North, there was a major breakthrough this winter in the efforts of the City to develop Pennsylvania Park. The railroad track and its right-of-way that makes up much of this park in the center of Downtown has been untouchable because it is owned by the State of Michigan. After about twenty-five years of discussion and negotiations with the State, Petoskey has made a deal buy this property. Plans include a long anticipated historic rail trolley and walking path that will run from the Zipp building, a former railroad station south of Downtown, through the middle of the Gaslight District and on to Bay View east of Downtown. When completed this project will be a beautiful and functional attraction and reminder of Petoskey's railroading history.

There will be a lot going on this summer here in Petoskey. We hope you will come and enjoy it with us.