2006-05-20 / News

Museum Seeks Site in Mackinaw City for Icebreaker

Mackinaw Museum No Longer Planned for Cheboygan

The Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, Inc. has submitted a request to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to lease a portion of the State Ferry Dock in Mackinaw City as the permanent home of the decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw.

"This was a very difficult decision to make," said Michelle Hill, museum spokesperson. "We always wanted the ship to stay in its historic home port and continue contributing to the community. We worked really hard to keep it here.

"Having the ship in Cheboygan would have been great for the city," she said, "but, in the long run, we began to see it might not be in the best interests of the ship."

She explained that the only available land on the banks of the Cheboygan River, a parcel known as "The Point," will require costly construction to install a permanent mooring, parking lot, and restroom facility.

"When we added all the costs, we realized it was beyond our budget," Ms. Hill said.

Mooring the icebreaker at the State Ferry Dock in Mackinaw City will save the organization more than $2 million and still keep it within Cheboygan County.

"This site already has parking, restrooms, and a mooring site," said Ms. Hill. "We will still have to dredge and potentially replace some bollards on the dock, but this will be minor compared with the expense of purchasing the land and building everything from the ground up."

The group also considered the existing tourist base in Mackinaw City.

"We ran the numbers through our business plan, comparing both sites, considering our anticipated overhead and visitation," Ms. Hill said. "It became pretty clear that locating the boat in Mackinaw City made the most sense."

Captain of the Icebreaker Mackinaw, Commander Joseph McGuiness, expressed his support of the group's mission.

"Cheboygan has been the Mackinaw's home port its whole life and we recognize that the decision may be difficult for some people to understand, and it was a hard decision for the board to make," he said. "After looking over their numbers, we understand how this decision was reached."

Stephanie Jacobson, chair of the group's fundraising committee said, "Individuals and businesses in the Cheboygan area have been crucial to our successes, so far. We are grateful for their support and hope they will see that our new mooring site will help us to spend their money in the way that is most beneficial to the ship."

Ms. Hill reported that the group is waiting for final approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for use of the dock site, preparing for the decommissioning, and actively fundraising.

"We are on our way, but we still need financial support to make the museum a reality," Ms. Jacobson said.

Donations can be sent to the group at P.O. Box 8, Cheboygan, Michigan 49721. More information about the project can be found on the group's Web site, www.icebreakermackinawmuseum. org.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2006-05-20 digital edition