Peninsula Township residents crowded into the Township Hall last night to learn whether the Township Board would accept a DNR Waterways Grant to reconstruct the boat launch and improve the parking lot at Haserot Beach. After listening to citizen comments, the Township Board agreed that no action would be taken at the meeting, and a public hearing would be scheduled for an upcoming board meeting.
The Township applied for the grant of $170,217 – half of the project’s anticipated cost – in March of this year, and the DNR recently approved it. Township Supervisor Rob Manigold said the other half of the cost would not come from taxpayers, but would instead be funded through the Township’s Enterprise Fund, which consists of monies earned through cell phone towers in Peninsula Township.
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The Haserot Beach boat launch was last updated in 1990. Over the years, traffic and congestion at the beach have continued to grow, posing safety issues, not only with folks parking alongside the roads, but also with families and kids around the boat launch area.
Improvements outlined in the grant application include regrading and graveling the existing parking area, adding additional parking, and installing 70 feet of permanent steel sheet piling on the east and west side of the existing boat ramp and dock.
The anticipated schedule included engaging Gourdie-Fraser Associates engineering firm in the spring of 2020, with the project finishing up a year later.
Some 20 township residents spoke at last night’s meeting, citing concerns that the project would bring in yet more visitors to the beach, escalate the parking issues, create a loss of township control by accepting the grant money, and lose the small-town charm of Haserot Beach.
The idea of moving the boat launch to nearby Kelley Park, which is owned by the DNR, was also discussed. While the water is shallower than Haserot Beach, there was a boat launch located there when the Nevinger’s owned the property many years ago.
Manigold also noted that this issue has actually been discussed at the township level for many years, dating back to at least 2010, when Kelley Park was known as “The Old Mooring Place,” and the township sought funding to buy the 7-acre parcel and install a boat launch there. You can view some of the documents, letters, citizen comments, and plans for that project here.
For various reasons, however, the land was subsequently turned over to the DNR, and during meetings with the DNR two years ago, it was determined that Kelley Park would be used for carry-down boats such as kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.
Other Takeaways from the Meeting:
Manigold noted that the amount of grant money the township applied for was a “best case scenario,” meaning that the actual project could be different than what is noted in the application.
This particular grant can only be applied to the boat launch and parking lot at Haserot Beach. If it’s determined that a boat launch will be built at Kelley Park, new funds would need to be secured.
While traffic congestion and parking is an issue at Haserot Beach, Manigold noted that it’s legal to park alongside the roads, as long as no tire is touching the pavement. However, this doesn’t apply to areas that specifically have “no parking” signs, such as near the kids’ play area.
Safety is the main issue of concern, as it’s dangerous to have people parking and walking across the road, as well as kids playing in the boat launch area and/or parking lot.
Stay tuned to Old Mission Gazette for more info about the upcoming public hearing.