Downtown Ontonagon from across the river

Downtown Ontonagon from across the river. Credit: ryangs (Flickr)

News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Joe Erickson
Ontonagon Village Manager
(906) 884-2305

[Ontonagon, Mich.] – Ontonagon has been selected as a case study community to develop a sustainable small harbor management strategy for Michigan’s coastal communities. In a six-month engagement process, a research and design team will engage the Ontonagon community in an exercise to identify opportunities to secure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of public waterfront facilities.

With help from local citizens, the project will develop an economic model and sustainability toolkit. This will include potential management strategies for small harbors in Michigan and assist communities with identifying planning objectives that help ensure a more secure future.

The project is supported by the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes, Department of Natural Resources, Lawrence Technological University, Michigan Sea Grant and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Benefits to Ontonagon

As one of four case study communities, Ontonagon will benefit from in-depth analysis and economic assessment — typically valued into the tens of thousands of dollars — at no direct cost. The assessment will shed light on barriers to financial sustainability and identify potential solutions, reducing dependence on declining external funding.

The project team will host an initial meeting and then a three-day public planning meeting, or “community design charrette,” to garner feedback, develop ideas and create a sustainable vision for Ontonagon’s waterfront. The research and design team will then compile community input to develop a harbor sustainability plan specific to Ontonagon, plus a case study on the process and outcomes to be used as part of the harbor sustainability toolkit. The toolkit will be shared to help other communities in Michigan move forward in drafting their own sustainable harbor and waterfront plans.

Share Your Vision

Developing a vision for a sustainable harbor requires input from a wide range of stakeholders, including landowners, waterfront users, planning officials and local citizens. To share your vision, attend upcoming public meetings to collaboratively develop a plan for Ontonagon’s waterfront.

The initial visioning meeting is scheduled for 6–8 p.m. Thursday, October 1, at the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room (429 River Street, Ontonagon). Please enter the building from Spar Street. Those who attend the initial meeting will have the chance to weigh in on the future of Ontonagon’s waterfront and will help identify assets linked to existing or potential public waterfront uses and/or facilities. Discussion will include pedestrian access, harbor use and linking the waterfront to downtown and commercial areas.

In the community design charrette scheduled for November 5–7 at the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room, participants will assess and prioritize design and planning options. The result will be a preliminary vision for the public waterfront as an asset to the community. The three-day design charrette will include small working groups (by invitation) and public sessions. A detailed agenda will be made available on the project website as the event date draws near. To learn more, visit:

Public Meetings for Sustainable Harbor Visioning

  • Initial Visioning Meeting
    Thursday, October 1, 6–8 p.m.
    Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room
  • Community Design Charrette
    November 5–7
    Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency meeting room

Additional Contacts

Amy Samples
Coastal Resilience Specialist
Michigan Sea Grant
(734) 647-0766

Dr. Donald Carpenter
Project Manager
Lawrence Technological University
(248) 204-2549

Joe Erickson
Ontonagon Village Manager
(906) 884-2305