Peninsula Township Board discusses Haserot Beach Boat Launch Expansion
Peninsula Township Board discusses Haserot Beach Boat Launch Expansion | Jane Boursaw Photo
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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.

Peninsula Township Board discusses Haserot Beach Boat Launch Expansion
OMP resident Lisa LaBonte comments on the Haserot Beach boat launch expansion at the Peninsula Township Board meeting | Jane Boursaw Photo

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.

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 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.

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  1. My thoughts on last nights meeting…

    Since the meeting started out with a history lesson on Haserot Beach and Kelly Park lets back up and look at the history of what happened over at Bowers Harbor. As I understand it there was a small sandy beach that was used by locals to swim until the DNR came in with their launch and eliminated the swimming beach completely. If I am wrong about this please correct me. But if this is true than why should we allow or trust the DNR to have any involvement with Haserot?

    In my opinion we should not make a single decisions on expanding, moving, and or improving anything until we get a handle on the parking safety issues at Haserot. I believe that safest thing for all is to eliminate road parking. I know it was stated that as a county road in Michigan parking is allowed as long as the wheels are off the pavement. But there must be someone in a position with some common sense that can approve an exception when it is in the best interest of public safety. We have a unique situation with 2 blind curves on either end of a park. Until we exhaust and research all options to eliminate road parking we should pause, because if road parking is to continue in my mind it changes what would be the safest and smartest way to move forward. I was in favor of the overflow parking when it was first purposed, but I naively assumed people would use the overflow lot before parking on the road where they endanger themselves and their children. Now, we just have more people coming out to use Haserot making the situation worse not safer. So if we cannot convince those in charge that the parking on the road is a hazard then we should eliminate the overflow parking that has just made the situation worse.

    As a side note I hate attending these Township meetings I feel like it is us against them and everyone is on the defense and must have thicker skin than me. It seems like a lot of last night anxiety could have been eased with better communication regarding this grant up front. And we should be working as team to solve these problems.

    • I agree with Sarah. It would be nice to have the people that are pushing these changes stand up and identify themselves which would make motive much clearer. They also need to be candid and explain their motives to us. No one at the meeting was willing to identify who is pushing for changes. More effort should be made to procure more beach property around the entire Peninsula. The Old Mission/Haserot community residents have more than done their share in hosting the entire Peninsulas needs and in my opinion have been taken advantage of. Too much, not in my neighborhood, lets put it in Old Mission Harbor attitude going on.

    • I was at the Bowers Harbor launch today and surveyed the scene and there is no way Haserot could handle a launch like that. Way too many vehicles and the overflow was not even being used at Bowers Harbor. There is no place in Old Mission for something like that!!!!!!!

  2. I agree with all these comments and would also appreciate knowing who is behind this push. Follow the money. Someone has a greater interest in this proposal other than public safety (and preservation of the natural beauty of this bay and its beaches).

  3. I was a recent Park Commissioner for 5 years or so, and it was always very difficult to balance the input from the community. There was been over the years plenty of input in favor of making improvements to the boat launch to make it safer and improve access – particularly for people in the community who don’t have waterfront property. Improvements were also discussed in the context of assisting with the subsurface substrate movement, which was a big issue when the water levels were low (the current launch design had the effect – when the water levels were lower – of amplifying the need for dredging every few years – a very expensive and imposing undertaking, because the dredge material was required to be stored in a pile on site). At that time (low water levels), only very small boats were able to launch – so the improvements were designed to bring back the access to the public and help with the substrate flow to keep the launch channel more clear. The balancing act between managing increased use and traffic with safety and facilities maintenance for the boat launch and the park was always challenging, but at no point was there a specific presence or group pushing an agenda (although the sport fisherman folks did come to speak to us about the challenge of access…). Anyhow, I hope that some bits of background from the perspective of a former park commissioner might be, if not particularly helpful, at least just a download of a little bit of additional info about where parts of the discussion were at a few years ago, and in particular the logic behind looking at a launch re-engineer/redesign.


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