Flooding at Fishtown, Leland Dam: Nonprofit Seeks Help with Damages

Fishtown in Leland is known for its restaurants, ferry rides, and boutiques right on the water.

But this summer water levels are so high it’s damaging the place people have visited for more than 100 years.

Amanda Holmes, executive director for the Fishtown Preservation Society, said, “Thousands of people come walking through here every day and we feel like we’re yelling with orange banners all of the time that we need help.”

The dam that separates Lake Leelanau from Lake Michigan is doing all it can to control the flow, but even that has flooded.

It’s something Administrator Chet Janik has never seen in his eight years serving Leelanau County.

“This has to be a priority for us, because as you can see there’s still water, which I have never seen,” Janik said. “It was probably up to here, for this level here, so part of our crew could not come in here because we have electrical equipment and water is a bad combination.”

Holmes said restoring the historic town was a project on their to-do list that’s now become their top priority this fall.

“When we first started the plans four years ago, we weren’t anticipating replacing all of the docks. We thought we could just do maintenance.”

Janik said his concern is during the fall and winter seasons, when water levels rise from rain and then freeze. He said this could be potentially dangerous for his employees, who need access to the dam’s control room.

Fishtown Preservation Society estimated about $1.6 million in damages heading into this spring. Now, Holmes is anticipating it to be as high as $2.5 million.

The nonprofit is accepting donations and even trade work to help restore Fishtown and prevent future damage this fall and winter.

“What is it going to take to keep a place they love here forever, and the way they can help is contribute,” Holmes said.

Categories: Michigan This Morning