Placemaking by way of fish: Restoration of fish cleaning station planned in Marquette

What’s happening: In the annals of Michigan placemaking projects, it’s not everyday you come across fish cleaning stations. Pocket parks and public art projects? We got ‘em. Street festivals and bike repair stations? Those, too. But sometimes it’s a project like the restoration of the Marquette Lower Harbor Fish Cleaning Station that gives you a sense of what makes a community truly unique. That’s exactly what the South Shore Fishing Association is planning to do, to restore a staple of the community that serves as a gathering place as well as an asset to the local economy. It’s hoped that a crowdfunding campaign and matching grant will help them achieve their goal.

What it is: The Lower Harbor Fish Cleaning Station was first installed by the South Shore Fishing Association (SSFA) in 2006. Long a gathering place for local and visiting anglers to clean their catch and share their stories, the station has since fallen into disrepair.

Why it’s important: In addition to the cleaning station’s community building role, the device also has more tangible applications, namely providing anglers an alternative for fish waste disposal, discouraging the dumping of fish carcasses and waste into Lake Superior and nearby woods and waterways.

What’s planned: The SSFA plans to replace key mechanical components, install a new fish grinder and other new features, and relocate the electrical panel farther away from the water. How will they do it? The SSFA has been accepted into the state’s Public Spaces Community Places placemaking initiative. The organization has until Thursday, July 16, to crowdfund $10,000 via the Michigan-based Patronicity platform. Should they prove successful, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will contribute an additional $10,000 matching grant to the project.

What they’re saying: “With the power of the MEDC Public Spaces Community Places grant matching, the South Shore Fishing Association (SSFA) will be able to make available the Lower Harbor Fish Cleaning Station for Resident and Tourist Anglers. Our goal is to “Re-Activate” a public space that was widely used but has exceeded its useful life cycle,” says Craig Cugini, SSFA member.

“The SSFA will be removing and replacing the grinder along with much-needed upgraded enhancements to make it better than it ever was before. Without this effort, the station would not be available, and a very vital resource would be lost to the community. This space will be available to charter boat captains and private anglers of all types for processing fish safely, responsibly and in an environmentally sound manner for years to come. We are grateful to the MEDC for supporting this valuable community project.”