GRAND HAVEN, MICH. - People across West Michigan probably noticed a big change near the beach in Grand Haven.
The iconic catwalk was removed for repairs in August, but city leaders are still trying to raise enough money for the $1 million project. It's a landmark that's shaped the city's character and people's memories.
"We lost a lot of identity," says Mike Fritz, Grand Haven Mayor pro tem.
Anthony Szpaichler and Caroline Hudson visited Grand Haven from Detroit on Friday and noticed the catwalk wasn't there.
"Last year, we got engaged right next to the lighthouse so it's pretty big," Szpaichler said.
"In September, so it's a big deal not being able to go out there," Hudson said.
Peggy Shull, originally from Grand Haven, remembers, too.
"Moved away to California, and I haven't been back here for about 20 years, so I was amazed to see the catwalk gone," Shull said.
Right now, the only place to find the new-looking catwalk is the smaller replica outside city hall. The original was removed and is now in storage awaiting repairs.
"It's been up there for 100 years, they're rusty, it needs to be replaced, it needs to look like the one sitting right behind me, we need to make it look good again and last another 100 years," Fritz said.
However, the city is still raising money for the $1 million project.
"It's kind of hard to do something if you don't have the cash to do it," Fritz said.
City leaders say they hope to have the catwalk repaired by the end of next summer. Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers is doing a project on the pier itself.
"It's falling apart, and they're going to do the top surface and get that all ready for us and then what we're going to do is we want to put our catwalk back on a nice surface and have that match with our nice lighthouse that we just got done refinishing," Fritz said.
"We plan to go back out there every year," Szpaichler said.
City leaders say so far they've raised $234,000 of the $1 million needed for the project. They say any donation, whether its $5 or $10,000, is welcome.
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