Port Sanilac is situated on the shore of Lake Huron and offers recreation options to tens of thousands of visitors each year. Our two main resources are 1) the lake and harbor area, featuring boating, swimming, diving and fishing, and 2) the surrounding shoreline area, featuring camping, golfing, festivals, our county museum and various music programs.
Our project site is within an existing building situated at the foot of Main Street and adjacent to the Port Sanilac harbor. Housing the office of the Harbor Master, the structure is less than 20 years old and is well maintained in a pleasant setting, with ample parking and easy access to the marina. To accommodate our water-based guests, we maintain a modest clubhouse room and restroom facilities within this same building.
Currently, however, the sole focus of the clubhouse is on those residents and visitors enjoying Port Sanilac’s water-based resources. Many more potential visitors traverse nearby M-25 without knowing of the treasures our village can offer. Even if they turn off onto our main street, there is nothing that provides the land-based visitor with any sign of welcome.
The project will expand the existing harbor clubhouse into a formal Visitor Center to welcome all visitors to Port Sanilac, more than doubling the use of this facility.
This project represents an adaptive re-use of an existing facility. The creation of a visitor center will communicate that Port Sanilac truly appreciates and welcomes those who come to visit the area. Whether visitors arrive by boat, car, bicycle or foot, they will find a comfortable spot that will entice them with information about what to see and do during their stay.
The new visitor center will pay dividends to area merchants by capturing income of visitors who choose to spend time in our village. Some of the village’s current vehicle traffic represents those who are passing through on their way to some other destination. A welcoming visitor center will encourage potential tourists to stop and learn about the area. The result will be additional trade at our restaurants, shops and rental facilities.
To expand the existing clubhouse facility to welcome and accommodate all Port Sanilac visitors, we plan the following upgrades:
1. New signs will be created to identify the location of the visitor center. The signs will be oriented to catch the eye of those who are driving or walking down Main Street as well as those using the marina.
2. Refreshments will be provided in the form of individually-brewed cups of coffee. A brew-on-demand station is a practical alternative to the standard pot of coffee that might sit for long periods of time between uses.
3. Information about area attractions and events will be provided through an improved bulletin board outside the visitor center. The current bulletin board is oriented primarily towards boating traffic and is in need of refurbishing.
4. Depending on funding levels, we envision a dramatic new information source: an interactive audio-visual kiosk mounted inside the visitor center. A touch-screen display will let users focus on the resources that fit their personal interests.