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The communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Bay Harbor will soon be connected by The Little Traverse Bay Ferry.

 The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Little Traverse Bay Foundation recently announced a new crowdfunding campaign, being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity, to help The Little Traverse Bay Ferry cover final expenses to open up for public use. If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by July 15, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For details about the water ferry project and to donate, please visit: patronicity.com/littletraverseferry.

Through this campaign, the Little Traverse Bay Foundation will be able to complete their plans to revive the long-forgotten Little Traverse Bay Ferry. The ferry will connect the Petoskey, Harbor Springs and Bay Harbor communities on the water. The ferry will use the bay like a community space, offering plenty of special events, both for educational and entertainment purposes.

“Creating spaces for people to be more connected to their neighboring communities and waterways is a great example of placemaking,” says MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “We are pleased to bring this project to life and provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

Little Traverse Bay Ferry Details:
  • The boat will set sail on June 25
  • Run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and accommodate up to 49 passengers
  • Store up to 5 bikes
  • Dog friendly

Funding will specifically allow the completion of the final phases to complete the ferry project including a new ADA Compliant dock and supplementary landscaping in Ford Park of Harbor Springs, which will be gifted to the city. It will also support educational programming for the fall/spring ‘on water’ classroom programs for schools and support additional safety equipment, and possible boarding area modifications required due to high water levels.

“It’s been over 60 years since Petoskey and Harbor Springs had water transportation supporting our lakeside communities—we are pleased to bring that asset back, and now including Bay Harbor. We are excited to be approved for the MEDC Public Spaces, Community Places Grant Program assisting in our goal to improve our gateways to board the ferry. This crowd granting campaign provides us with the funding needed to complete a few important projects,” says Little Traverse Bay Foundation Advisory Board Member Ami Klykken. “The ultimate goal is to have the financial support needed to keep the ferry safe, affordable and available for all to enjoy for years to come.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be a part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at patronicity.com/puremichigan.

“Providing transportation that brings communities together in meaningful ways is key to great placemaking,” says Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “The Little Traverse Bay Ferry will revive an old tradition and breathe new life into it with new and creative uses for residents and visitors of the communities it serves.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of June 8, MEDC has provided more than $7.4 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 240 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with $8.65 million raised from 43,759 individual donors.