A change of course on Traverse City's FishPass project
The FishPass project on the Boardman-Ottaway River is now set to move forward.
The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned a circuit court ruling on Thursday which had stalled the project for over a year.
The project would replace Traverse City's Union Street dam with a first-of-its kind structure that would block invasive species like sea lamprey while allowing desirable fish like sturgeon and trout to move upstream.
But resident Rick Buckhalter took legal action against the project, claiming it would “dispose of public parkland.” According to the city charter, that requires a public vote. In June 2021, circuit court Judge Thomas Power agreed.
The city — along with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission — appealed, and now that decision has been overturned.
“This has been an unwelcome delay, but has not dampened our enthusiasm for this,” said Marc Gaden, with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
“We’ve all been anxiously anticipating this ruling, and we’re ready to pick up where we left off almost two years ago,” Gaden said.
Spence Brothers Construction was selected to build FishPass before the project was challenged in circuit court. Gaden said the contract will be re-negotiated before construction can begin.