TRAVERSE CITY — Acme Township purchased the last of three buildings on its growing project to create a mile-long shoreline park, and demolition crews are ready to dive into work.
Township officials finalized the purchase of the Beach Club Motel on May 31, the last of its targeted waterfront properties. Demolition on the Beach Club, the Sun and Sand Motel, and the former Mountain Jack’s Restaurant will begin June 17, said Acme Supervisor Jay Zollinger. Demolition, which includes rebuilding the seawall along the restaurant property, is expected to take about two and a half months.
“That area is not going to be open this year at all,” Zollinger said. “We need to get it all down, smooth it out, add topsoil and then seed it.”
The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund contributed more than $6 million to obtain land from willing sellers, and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy is leading fundraising efforts for a local match. About $7.7 million has been raised so far to acquire a mile-long stretch of East Bay waterfront along U.S. 31 from M-72 to the state’s roadside park at Five Mile Road.
“What I see Acme doing, and we’re happy to partner with them on, is saying ‘let’s protect this place and reconnect to it in a new way and create access for all types of people,’” said Megan Olds, associate director of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. “They’re not just talking about building a park, they’re talking about creating a great place along the corridor.”
The township is in phase three of the project. Phase one added 540 feet of shoreline near its existing Bayside Park at M-72. Phase two added another 900 feet from Mountain Jack’s and surrounding properties.
Phase three will focus on improvements to make the shoreline aesthetically pleasing, such as clearing the latest acquisitions, adding picnic tables and building an endowment fund for park stewardship. The township board recently contracted for a formal topographic survey of its land and park improvement plans.
Zollinger said the first improvement eyed for completion this summer likely will involve expansion of the parking lot at the Bayside Park to the area behind the Shell gas station near the intersection of M-72 and U.S. 31.
”Some summer (days) it has been full and that was before we added the additional land,” Zollinger said.
Dianna Anderson lives on Bunker Hill and shares ownership of a small beach lot across the street, where she takes her grandchildren for picnics. She agrees the township needs more public shoreline and supports the demolition of vacant buildings. She has reservations about the township buying out businesses, though.
”I’ve got my mixed feelings on it,” Anderson said. “If they’re abandoned I would say go for it. If it’s going to beautify the area, that would be great.”
Olds said the township is only working with willing sellers or donors, and some parcels were for sale before the project launched in 2007. Several homes, the private marina and businesses remain between the acquired parcels.
Wes Nelson, who owns businesses at the corner of U.S. 31 and Bunker Hill, would rather see the property developed to generate more taxes for the township.
”It has its benefits, obviously. There’s nothing beautiful about that empty building over there,” Nelson said, motioning across the street. “Sometimes development’s not that ugly, either.”