State park to open early next week

Becky Vargo • Apr 27, 2018 at 8:00 AM

The channel bathrooms are open and the gates to the day-use area at the Grand Haven State Park will open no later than next Tuesday, according to Park Supervisor Matt Shaver.

Work has been delayed slightly because of the prolonged winter weather, but Shaver said the crews should be able to get most of three weeks’ worth of work done this week.

On Thursday, the crews were moving sand and painting stripes in the state park’s parking lots. Another crew removed a tree at the location planned for a new channel bathroom building.

Sand is also being dredged from the channel area and deposited at the state park to extend the beach.

“The beach replenishment is being done by the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers,” Shaver said. “That’s going to be a nice addition. That will really help us out.”

Shaver said that kind of beach work hasn’t been done in more than 10 years. The extended beach will reach from the pier to about the middle of the volleyball court area, he said.

Work is mostly on schedule for a slightly larger restroom building on the channel, Shaver said. The new restroom will contain a few more stalls (than the old bathroom) on both the men’s and women’s sides.

There will also be vending machines in a semi-enclosed area on the east side, which will include drinking fountains with water bottle fill stations. The vending area will have roll-down doors, which will be closed and locked at night.

Shaver said the restroom is scheduled for completion by Aug. 1. Crews will wait until after Coast Guard Festival to tear down the old channel bathroom.

The bathroom is the last part of the second of three phases of work planned at the park through 2020.

The first phase, completed several years ago, included improvements to the channel and northeast parking lots, a new campground office, campsite extensions, and sidewalk improvements. The second phase, most of which was completed in early November 2017, included reconstruction of the parking lots on the lakeshore side, new sidewalks, a wider turn radius at the entry gate and an improved food court area.

Steel parking bumpers that are unique to the Grand Haven park were to be replaced because of their historic value, Shaver said.

The supervisor noted that five trees, including the one taken down Thursday, have been removed to make way for construction. Twenty-five 4-foot basswood and black oak trees were planted around the park in December.

Shaver said someone damaged two of the trees over the winter, so they placed fences around the rest of the trees.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can just to keep them alive,” he said, including watering and fertilizing. 

Shaver said there are minimal nutrients for the trees in the sand. Trees also don’t last long at the park, as they might in other locations, because of the heavy pedestrian traffic.

The combined cost of the first and second phases is about $2.8 million, Shaver said. Phase 3, which will add another 200 parking spaces on the north end of the parking area, will cost almost $1 million.

During the third phase, changes will be made to the picnic and volleyball areas, but those are still being discussed, said Shaver.

When the work is done this year, it will look like it’s half done. With phase 3, “there’s an end process that will tie everything together,” Shaver noted.

A study has also been completed on the park’s pavilion, but officials are still waiting for that report, Shaver said.

Funding for phase 3 has yet to be secured, but that’s mainly because they haven’t compiled all of the costs yet, the supervisor said.

“It’s in the master plan,” he said.

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