Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 20, 2013

Editorial: Improving access to Bay is gov't at its best

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — One of the most compelling reasons to live in the Grand Traverse area is Grand Traverse Bay — a unique body of fresh water divided by Old Mission Peninsula with thousands of acres of water perfect for boating, fishing and beaches. The bay is one of the great spots in the Great Lakes.

But the bay can also be a major frustration for those who own a boat but don’t live on the water with their own dock. Despite the miles and miles of shoreline on both bays and along Old Mission, the bay is also notorious for its lack of boat launch sites, places where boat owners can get their boat in and out of the water on a weekend without waiting for hours to put in and pull out.

And at the few public launch sites that do exist, finding a place to park a vehicle with a boat trailer on a weekend can be pretty much impossible. Water, water everywhere, but not a way to get at it.

Boat owners are likely ecstatic, then, over Peninsula Township’s endorsement of a plan by the the state Department of Natural Resources to purchase seven acres on Old Mission harbor on East Bay to build a boat launch. The township has also applied to a DNR fund to purchase 59 acres adjacent to the township’s Bower’s Harbor Park across the peninsula on West Bay.

Right now there are only two public launch sites on the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay - one in Elk Rapids and a small, state-owned site off Center Road near the base of the peninsula. That site is usually jammed on summer weekends, and creates traffic problems because of vehicles and trailers parked along Center Road.

The proposed Old Mission launch site off Mission Road — known locally as the Old Mooring Place — is about 500 feet south of the township’s Haserot Beach. It includes 10 would-be home lots and has an interior road system, buried utilities, and a private sewer system, said Rob Manigold, Peninsula Township supervisor. No homes were built there.

“With 7 acres, there will be a ton of parking and the local residents up there are all in favor of it,” Manigold said.

The township tried to acquire the property in 2010, but needed a local match. The DNR has now wisely agreed to cover the match and pay for improvements. That’s the kind of

This is the way government is supposed to work, with public money being used to make public resources available to as much of the public as possible.