Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 28, 2013

Editorial: County can't ignore Twin Lakes problems

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Chazz McCall says he has repeatedly complained to Grand Traverse County officials in recent years about ongoing problems with illegal hunting and alcohol and drug consumption at county-owned Twin Lakes Park, but nothing has changed.

Now he’s had enough. Last month, McCall revoked an offer to give the land where he lives on the other side of the lake to the county when he dies because, he said, officials have been poor stewards of the “pristine” land.

“Twenty years ago I said, ‘When I die, I’m going to leave this land to the county,’” McCall said. “I informed them at the meeting that will no longer be on the table because of their lack of stewardship.”

McCall said he’s repeatedly brought his concerns to county officials in recent years. He recently pointed out discarded beer cans near a makeshift bonfire pit at the county park as proof that the county has failed to do its job.

Undersheriff Nate Alger of the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department said deputies are stopping by the park more frequently now, but contends they can’t easily patrol the park’s expansive back woods. Those aren’t the only trouble spots, however.

Putting up gates to close the park after hours and building fences and additional signs might help, Alger said, but won’t solve all the park’s problems. That’s a straw man argument. No one has said gates and signs will solve all the problems there, but they would be an improvement.

County Commissioner Christine Maxbauer said building a gate to close the park after hours would help, and she’s right. Anyone still in the park building a bonfire and having a few beers after the gate is closed is breaking the law, period.

McCall said he is most concerned about illegal hunting, which he said occurs in areas of the park crisscrossed with hiking trails, along with the partying.

Maxbauer said the county should fence off the back area of the property and hire a part-time county park ranger to patrol the park in the summer. Neither move would be cheap, but the county is obligated to oversee what goes on there.

Three young men have drowned at the beach there in recent year, and there have been calls for more signs, safety equipment and possibly life guards.

McCall’s complaints sound like more of the same — county officials not doing enough to resolve ongoing problems they have been alerted to time and again. That’s not acceptable and has to change.