At an upcoming meeting of the Peninsula Township Board on Tuesday, August 13, the board will consider approving a proposal that would expand the boat launch at Haserot Beach and improve both the existing and overflow parking lots.
DNR Waterways Grant Approved
In March of this year, Peninsula Township applied for a DNR Waterways grant to reconstruct the Haserot Beach boat launch and improve the parking lot, including the existing parking lot at the beach and the overflow parking area next to the Legion Hall.
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That grant was recently approved for $170,217, half of the project’s anticipated total cost of $340,434. At Tuesday’s meeting, the Township Board will consider approving a resolution to match the other half of the project cost, also $170, 217.
As noted in the “Waterways Grant Agreement,” included in the meeting packet, “any additional funds needed to complete this work, called for in this agreement, shall be provided by the Township.”
Increase in Haserot Beach Visitors
From the “Project Overview and Background” section of the meeting packet:
“Over the years, the park has become increasingly popular, experiencing thousands of visitors a year and growing. This demand has in turn initiated a need for improvements to improve accessibility and safety. The increase in visitors has created increased confestion, as minimal parking is available and patrons must park along the side of the road, creating danger for walkers and bikers.
“The ramp was last updated in 1990, and discussions have been ongoing since 2014 to address not only needed structural improvements to the boat launch, but for improved and expanded parking. To further support, this project has been identified in the 2018 5-Year Park and Recreation Plan as a high priority and topic of interest by the residents in the Township.”
Scope of Haserot Beach Project
The scope of the work at Haserot Beach, as noted in the “Project Overview,” includes:
The existing parking area will be regraded and graveled with 6″ of 21AA dense graded aggregate.
The existing large rock underwater will be improved to allow for 70 linear feet of permanent steel sheet piling to be installed (if required by regulatory agencies) on the east and west side of the existing boat ramp and dock.
Additional new heavy riprap will be placed landward east and west of the existing boat ramp.
In addition to the improvements at the existing boat launch ramp, the Township has proposed constructing additional parking on the north side of Swaney Road for up to 77 vehicles. This parking area will be cleared of existing trees and vegetation. Unsuitable soils will be removed, and new clean granular material will be placed and compacted. The parking area will be surfaced with 6″ of 21AA dense aggregate. This parking area will be surrounded by a 15′ vegetative buffer.
Anticipated Project Schedule
The anticipated Haserot Beach project schedule, as noted in the packet, includes:
- May 2020: Engage engineering firm
- June 2020: Kick-off Meeting with Peninsula Township
- June-July 2020: Research/Preliminary Design and Survey
- July-Sept. 2020: Final Design
- Oct. 2020: Permitting
- Dec. 2020: Bidding
- March-June 2021: Construction
- June 1, 2021: Project Closeout
The packet also includes a proposal for engineering services and conceptual designs, not for construction purposes, from Traverse City engineering firm Gourdie-Fraser Associates, along with the Boating Access Site Construction-Agreement between Peninsula Township and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
‘Save Haserot Beach’ Group Formed to Oppose Project
In the wake of the DNR Waterways grant approval, a group of residents in the village of Old Mission, where Haserot Beach is located, have formed the group Save Haserot Beach “to ensure that resident have a voice in decisions that are being made,” notes an email sent to Old Mission Gazette this week.
“We are residents of Old Mission, some seasonal and some year-round,” notes their website. “We share our love for our Haserot Beach and its unique community of beachgoers who treasure its low key, small town ambience. At a time of onslaught from increased complexity and chaos, we aim to protect Haserot as a refuge where life is simple.”
The Save Haserot Beach group argues that the planning and application process for the project has occurred with little or no publicity, and that the scope of the project will permanently alter Haserot Beach and bring in more visitors to an already congested area with heavy traffic during the summer months.
From the group’s position paper on the Haserot Beach Project:
The most significant aspect of the plan (the elephant in the room, so to speak) would be the installation of two steel sheet pile walls on either side of the launch. These walls would be huge, 70 feet long, extending two to five feet above the water, depending on lake level. Drawings in the grant proposal show a distance of 30 feet between the walls – enough to accommodate a two-lane launch either now or later. Their cost would also be huge, $176,000 in direct and indirect expenses, 85 percent of the ramp budget.
Other Concerns About the Haserot Beach Project
The group also says that increasing the capacity of the boat launch to accommodate more boats and bigger boats raises other concerns, including:
Downsized Swimming Beach – An expanded boat launch will reduce the amount of beach area for sunbathers and swimmers.
Swimmer Safety – The Township has long maintained that launching boats in proximity to swimmers is a concern. More boats, bigger boats, and a launch site expansion closer to swimmers only exacerbates this concern.
Destruction of Haserot Beach Sand – Erecting long walls could starve the swimming beach of sand. South winds and waves that move the most sand set up an east to west current in this part of the bay. Sheet pile walls extending 60 to 70 feet out from shore would interrupt that flow. No studies have been done by the Township or DNR to evaluate the impact of the walls on sand accretion at the beach.
Boater Safety – On nice summer days, Old Mission Bay is often overrun with boats, causing many local residents concern for their own safety while boating, as well as contributing to an increase in noise along the Bay. Users of non-motorized craft such as paddle boards and kayaks are forced off the Bay at times of high motor craft use.
More Road Traffic – Despite increased parking envisioned in the plan, an expanded boat launch will invite an increase of boaters and trailers coming to Haserot. Traffic volume at Haserot is already dangerous.
The group also wonders whether the expanded launch will “benefit the Peninsula Township residents who are going to pay for it, or will it primarily benefit non-residents attracted to a high volume boat launch?”
Visit the group’s Save Haserot Beach website here.
See the DNR Waterways Grant Application here, the full agenda for Tuesday’s meeting on the Peninsula Township website here, and the packet of information here (the Haserot Beach project is at the end of the packet).
Also at Tuesday’s Township Board Meeting
Also on Tuesday’s meeting agenda is a request from Bowers Harbor Vineyards to hold all 20 “Dining in the Vines” events allowed under their recently-approved Special Use Permit #32.
The consent agenda also includes a number of items, including a proposal to redo signage throughout Peninsula Township with an updated logo and development of graphic standards, and a request from Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff to put declared surplus equipment “Old Engine 1” out for bid, declare the water supply truck as surplus, and put that out for bid, as well.
As always, there will be time for citizen comments at the meeting.
A NOTE FROM JANE: 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 like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like 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 of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my 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 Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb