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Published: Wednesday, 10/7/2009

Plan focuses on Luna Pier as tourist spot

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

LUNA PIER - With nearly 4 1/2 miles of Lake Erie shoreline and a quick jump from the interstate, Luna Pier could be poised for a renaissance as a tourist destination.

City officials said work on a detailed master plan that would focus on the area's beachfront location is entering the final stages.

The city has been pushing ahead for nearly a year to develop the first overhaul of the master plan since 1987.

It is be touted as a key piece in efforts to rebuild the city's image into an easily accessible destination point and Lake Erie gateway to other tourist spots.

The city planning commission will meet tonight to discuss the master plan project and take public comment.

Luna Pier Administrator Greg Stewart said a master plan provides the city with a business-like approach that will showcase the community's strengths and begin the process to reinvigorate the city.

"Nobody is going to invest unless you put it down in a organized plan so you can explain it," he said. "You got to start with a master plan."

A city obtained a $30,000 grant last year from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to work on the plan.

Poggemeyer Design Group was hired by the city to assist in the project.

City officials said a revamped master plan is necessary to land state and federal grants to pay for improvements.

Among the improvements would be a dock that could accommodate ferry or Jet Express passenger service to other ports in Lake Erie as well as the Maumee River and Detroit.

Mr. Stewart said that after tonight's meeting Poggemeyer will put together a finished product and present the master plan for approval by the city planning commission, after which city council would review it.

"I want to have it done in November, if not December. It needs to be done by the end of the year," Mr. Stewart said.

A Downtown Development Authority was recently created to secure tax dollars to spur reinvestment in the city.

The DDA, which council approved on Sept. 24, generates revenue by capturing any future annual increase in the tax value of properties within its boundaries.

The DDA would receive tax money that would otherwise go to the Monroe County Intermediate School District, Monroe County Community College, Mason Consolidated Schools, Monroe County Library System, and Monroe County Senior Citizens.

The money controlled by the mayor and its eight-member board can be used for facade improvements on structures within the boundaries of the district.

Other communities have used money from the special districts to spruce up downtown business areas with clock towers, benches, trails, and streetscaping.

The district approved for Luna Pier stretches from Lakeside Road and Elm Street on the east to the city's western edge on I-75, north to Buckeye Street, and south to the public docks and Luna Pier Harbour Club.



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