SPRING LAKE, Mich. — Village leaders hopes to reopen Mill Point Park this spring have floated away.
Spring Lake village officials have announced that the riverside park and boat launch are closed “indefinitely” due to high water levels. Village Manager Chris Burns said the annual Wooden Boat Show in early June will be canceled and the mid-June Heritage Festival will be relocated to Central Park.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is forecasting that 2020 water levels are projected to rise another 8-12 inches.
Much of the Mill Point parking lot had standing water in 2019, and soggy conditions persisted throughout the summer and fall.
Village leaders closed the park last fall and put up barricades, but Burns said that didn’t deter some people, and village staff are considering installing permanent barricades.
“We had some people who would get out of their vehicle and move the barricades,” Burns said. “They’d drive on the grass (to avoid the parking lot water). We had a guy who thought he had to launch his boat and the rules didn’t apply to him.”
Although Burns said it doesn’t compare to people on the Lake Michigan shoreline potentially losing “seven figure” homes due to beach erosion, the effects of continued high water will be felt by many.
The boat launch provides $8,000 to $10,000 in revenue to the village each season. Although that’s not a huge amount, Burns said “it’s real money lost.”
She also said if projections are correct and high water levels continue, it could mean less people visiting Spring Lake and Grand Haven, which could impact restaurants and retailers. The water is the reason people come, she added. Grand Haven’s Harbor Island boat launch is also closed with no opening date in site.
“If people have nowhere to launch their boats and can’t enjoy the water, they may not come here,” Burns said.
High water is also delaying much-needed repairs to Mill Point Park. The Village Council approved a total of $440,000 in two consecutive budget years for the park’s parking lot repairs, but Mother Nature has voted “nay.”
“We’ve allocated money the last couple of years to make improvements to the parking lot at Mill Point Park, but we haven’t been able to make them because of standing water,” Burns said. “Until the water levels go down, we can’t really do much with it. Once the water levels recede, Mill Point Park will receive the attention it needs and deserves.”
Besides the flooded parking lot and grounds, the on-site band shell needs a new roof, according to Burns. Requests for roof repair proposals are being sent out, but it may take some time before any contractors can actually attempt them.
Sending vehicles into the park is not an option at this time.
Burns said that, ideally, village public works staff and other contractors could take care of the issues, but it would be foolish to spend money on repairs until water levels subside.
Burns said she hopes residents can be patient, and understand the high water situation that exists. Any money spent on repairs at this time, could literally, wash away.
“People have been pretty critical of the fact that repairs need to be made,” Burns said. “We’re sitting on the money, waiting to do them. Mother Nature is not cooperating. It’s not that we’re oblivious to the fact repairs need to be made. We have drainage and topography and storm water and sewer things we need to address. It’s part of the grand plan. We just have to wait for Mother Nature to cooperate.”
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