Community offers 60 housing spots after SBD call for help

Record-Eagle photo file/Jan-Michael StumpThe boat launch in Lake Township Park at the mouth of the Platte River near Honor, with a view of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

EMPIRE — About 60 people offered up rental spots after the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in March said it didn't have enough housing for its summer help.

The Lakeshore was looking for about 25 spots for all the park rangers, natural resource maintenance people, interpreters and fee collectors that are hired for the park each year.

"We got quite a response," said Merrith Baughman, chief of interpretation and visitor services for the National Lakeshore. "That was wonderful, that the community opened up their homes."

Some are houses and some are rooms, Baughman said. Some are available for three months and some would be on a month-to-month option, she said.

Work has also been completed on two National Lakeshore-owned homes that together sleep 11 and are usually available to house summer help.

"The crunch may have been alleviated a little, but it's nice to have all those options for people," Baughman said.

Renovations at the Crouch farm in Empire that were delayed with the government shutdown in December were completed. Repairs at the D.H. Day house in Glen Haven have also been completed after pipes that froze and burst, causing extensive damage.

The Lakeshore hired close to 100 people this year, which is about the number that is hired every year, she said. Many of them are from outside the area, as there were some local people who retired or opted not to work at the park this year.

That made the housing need even more critical.

Baughman said she made the list of 60 spots available to those people who expressed a need for housing, though she does not know how many people took advantage of it.

This is the first time the Lakeshore has had to ask the community for help.