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A lot happened on the Old Mission Peninsula in 2017, including developments, public hearings, park expansions, new township personnel and more. Here are our Top 10 stories of the year, and if we missed some, feel free to add them in the comments section at the bottom of this story.

1. New Library. Peninsula Community Library is inching closer to their goal of raising $2.5 million by July 1, 2018, for construction of a new library to be located on the corner of Center Road and Island View Road. Click here to read more and make a donation.

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2. ’81’ Development. After several years of meetings, public hearings and lawsuits, the ’81 on East Bay’ Development, which borders Boursaw Road, was approved by the Peninsula Township Board on Dec. 12, 2017. The approval comes with conditions, including: illustration of the watershed on the plans, storm piping for a 25-year period instead of a 10-year period, ditching of the cul-de-sac area to prevent overflow, and ditch flow capacity calculations. Click here to read more.

3. New School. The Old Mission Peninsula Education Foundation was awarded a charter for the new Old Mission Peninsula School (OMPS), opening in Fall 2018. The foundation formed after Traverse City Area Public Schools chose to shutter OMPS after low enrollment. Click here to meet the new OMPS Board of Education and make a donation.

4. Bluff Road Re-Paving. Bluff Road got a makeover from the Grand Traverse County Road Commission, but not without a few issues. A group of Peninsula Township citizens formed a group to limit the amount of trees that the road commission was planning to remove, as well as circulate a petition to designate the road a “Natural Beauty Road” (which was eventually denied). Click here to read more.

5. Bowers Harbor Park Addition. Plans are moving forward to expand Bowers Harbor Park, with the new 60-acre parcel bordering Devil’s Dive Road. The addition, which will include a new walking path, will be completed with the assistance of grant funds from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, and significant private donations. Click here to view the final proposed concept plan.

6. Airbnb Rentals. Much discussion took place this year regarding Airbnb/Short Term Rentals on the Old Mission Peninsula. At an informal discussion group at the Peninsula Township Hall this fall, both sides of the issue were discussed, including the pros and cons. Look for a public hearing coming up soon.

7. Vineyard Ridge Condo Subdivision. The condo subdivision located on Center Road near town was approved by the Peninsula Township Board, and work began on the project. The 47-home subdivision is being developed by local realtor Ken Schmidt, and will be geared towards an older demographic. Click here to read more.

8. New Fire Chief. Fred Gilstorff was hired as the new chief of Peninsula Fire Department. Fred comes to us from the City of Wayne Fire Department, where he was the deputy chief.  He began his new job on the Peninsula in November.

9. New Township Planner. In January, Brian VanDenBrand was hired as the new Director of Planning and Zoning for Peninsula Township. Brian previously was the Deputy Planner in Garfield Township in Grand Traverse County. Click here to read more.

10. Haserot Beach/Kelley Park. At a Peninsula Township meeting in August, DNR District Supervisor Tim Schreiner outlined plans for Kelley Park (also known as “Old Moorings” and “Nevinger Campground”) on Mission Road, and also discussed Haserot Beach. At the informational meeting, he explained that the DNR purchased Kelley Park a number of years ago with funds from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, agreeing to work with the Township to make the best use of that entire area. The park will likely be used for carry-down boats such as canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Click here to read more.

SUPPORT YOUR INDEPENDENT LOCAL NEWSPAPER: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever. Thank you so much for your support! -Jane Boursaw, Editor/Publisher, Old Mission Gazette

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation.

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