Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — Back in 2007 only die-hard Acme Township supporters gave much thought to the strip of land that lay between U.S 31 North and East Bay.
It was too narrow to support more than a few homes and businesses and there wasn’t much of a beach. There was a small park at the north end, where M-72 linked up with 31, but even that looked like an afterthought.
On May 31, however, the township finalized the purchase of the Beach Club Motel. Demolition on the Beach Club, the Sun and Sand Motel, and the former Mountain Jack’s Restaurant was to begin Monday and take about two and a half months. Work will include rebuilding the seawall along the restaurant property.
“That area is not going to be open this year at all,” said Acme Supervisor Jay Zollinger. “We need to get it all down, smooth it out, add topsoil and then seed it.”
Later this summer, the township will begin adding picnic tables and expand the parking lot at Bayside Park to the area behind the Shell gas station near the intersection of M-72 and U.S. 31.
In the meantime, work will begin on an endowment fund for park stewardship. The township board recently contracted for a formal topographic survey of its land and park improvement plans.
It’s all rather amazing, and will get even better as more than a mile of parkland emerges along the once-forgotten shore. In just six years Acme has raised millions - and the township’s image. Before park talk got serious, Acme was known primarily as home to the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and the place where M-72 and U.S. 31 came together.
It was the eastern approach to the Grand Traverse area, but looked more like a back door than a grand front entrance.
When work is done, however the park will stretch all the way from M-72 to south of the Mountain Jack’s and include places to swim, picnic and enjoy East Bay. Visitors will see the best of the region — a beach on a bay — and not just a highway.
The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has contributed more than $6 million to obtain land, but the hardest work has been done by Acme residents and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. They’ve raised about $7.7 million so far for a local match to eventually acquire the mile-long stretch of East Bay waterfront from M-72 to the state’s roadside park at Five Mile Road.
The park is going to give Grand Traverse County a grand new front door and Acme residents — finally — their own place to enjoy a view of the bay.