GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to conduct a study to figure out whether it is viable to add a wharf to the Port of Muskegon.

Talks of a land deal and lakeshore development have been in the works for years. City officials have been negotiating with the owners of The Mart Dock to swap property, allowing the city to take over the dock in exchange for Fisherman’s Lansing.

Last year, the state Legislature allocated $1.5 million to cover costs for converting and cleaning the docks and making improvements should a deal go through.  

Jake Eckholm, Muskegon’s director of economic development, told the Muskegon Chronicle that the plan for the area is to provide more passive recreational opportunities and draw more people to the lakeshore.

According to Jim Luke, the outreach coordinator for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District, federal interest studies are often a first step in the process for a major development.

“The initial federal interest determination — we call it a ‘FID’ at the Corps of Engineers — it is essentially a preliminary look at the project,” Luke told News 8. “It is 100% federally funded up to $100,000. … Essentially, it’s exactly like it sounds. We’re determining whether there is federal interest. We look at the high-level economic analysis of the project. What are the costs of it? What are the benefits of it?”

Luke said the process is a win-win for both federal and local governments.

“It helps decide whether they want to move forward with the project,” Luke said. “If it’s a project that probably isn’t going to make it to design or construction, obviously the locals aren’t going to want to spend a bunch of money on a feasibility study to do that.”

There is no timeline set for the study yet. The $100,000 funding will come from the Consolidated Appropriations Act that was signed in March.

The act will also cover a beach nourishment project in South Haven, which will dredge sand from around the harbor and put it back on the beach. It not only provides more depth for the harbor but also expands the beach and protects nearby infrastructure from potential flooding.