The City of Alpena is getting ready for another busy boating season at the Alpena Marina. Located just a short walk from the heart of downtown, the marina is a popular destination for transient and seasonal boaters, fishers, and visitors who want to take in the view of Thunder Bay and Lake Huron.
The City has had operational control of the full-service marina since last fall. Walking through the marina and boat harbor area, you can see the improvements and investments the City has been making: updating landscaping, cleaning the grounds, cleaning docks, improving the buildings, and updating lighting. Last year, the City also began the process of creating a master plan for the marina which was developed with input from the public and staff on their vision for the marina and what improvements they would like to see.
This summer, the marina will also see two new businesses that will operate out of the marina building, which has undergone interior and exterior renovations over the last year. Just this week, City Council approved the lease for All Marine Storage, who currently operates the lift service, to expand their business to include a full marine repair shop and boat parts supplier.
City Council also approved the lease for a new small grocery store, Cochon- Gourmet Market of Alpena. Previously located in Harbor Springs, Cochon will offer pre-packaged food and gourmet grocery items, including meats, cheeses, and locally made products. They eventually plan to offer grab-and-go wine and beer. Both businesses aim to be open in the space by Memorial Day.
Harbormaster Shannon Smolinski has been overseeing the improvements, with the help of two full-time City staff devoted to the marina and the Harbor Advisory Committee, a volunteer committee composed of various marina users committed to its revitalization. The Harbor Advisory meetings are the first Thursday of every month at 4:30 in the City Hall Council Chambers. The Committee always welcomes the public and their input.
Future projects include continued cleaning and maintenance, replacing the fixed docks, remodeling the boaters restroom, preparing a marketing plan, and continuing to rehabilitate the marina building. With the City’s support, many of these projects are in the works or have grant applications in progress to help offset the cost.
Although the port of Alpena is a nine mile trek in from Lake Huron, the marina has seen an increasing amount of visitor traffic due to its full-service amenities and its proximity to downtown stores, restaurants, bars, bike path, and more, which other harbors in the area do not have.
In just a few weeks, boats will return to the harbor, a sure sign that summer is on its way.