Five years ago, in response to loud public outcry, a plan to put a high-volume boat launch on Old Mission Bay was scrapped. Now, the plan is back, but this time threatens to destroy Haserot Beach, a cherished feature of our region.
Peninsula Township has been approved for a DNR grant to build a new launch on Haserot Beach. Plans show a launch wide enough for two lanes of simultaneous boat traffic, with concrete and steel piling walls on either side extending 70 feet into Old Mission Bay. These plans were submitted by Peninsula Township with minimal notice or public input.
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On Tuesday, the Township Board will vote on whether to accept the grant contract. If built, this supersized launch will permanently scar one of the most treasured beaches in Michigan.
Aside from taking land from the swimming beach, the long sea walls into the bay are likely to interrupt the natural flow of sand that nourishes the beach. As a result, Haserot Beach could have a sandless future.
Generations of families have visited Haserot for swimming, picnics and play. On busy days, it can be crowded. Peninsula Township officials have long acknowledged a safety problem caused by beachgoers parking and walking on the road.
Although this plan calls for additional parking, by DNR rules the parking can be used only by boaters. Beachgoers are excluded, leaving the safety issue not only unresolved, but adding to it through increased road traffic from boaters using the new launch.
Five years ago, when Township officials wanted to move the Haserot launch to another location, they used the rationale that a boat launch so close to a swimming area posed a risk to swimmers. On that basis, it is negligent of the Township to now propose putting boats (and more of them) even closer to swimmers.
Of the $340,000 project cost, the Township will use taxpayer funds to pay half ($170,000). This is a steep price to pay for something that isn’t being demanded by Peninsula Township taxpayers. Solving the parking problem at Haserot could be accomplished for much less cost to Township taxpayers and without destroying Haserot Beach.
A $170,000 grant from the DNR might seem too good to turn down, but Township officials should realize that just because something is free doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything. In this case, the cost is safety, lifestyle and a treasured beach.
When the Township Board is asked to consider whether to accept the grant, they should represent the interests of their constituents and say no.