S'more study for GH camping

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:50 AM

City Council has approved hiring the Northwest Design Group for $12,000 to look at the possibility of having a campground at Harbor Island.

Council voted 4-1 Monday night to hire the consultant. Councilman Bob Monetza voted against the resolution, saying he didn't favor the concept of a city-owned campground.

Councilman Mike Fritz said hiring the consultant was important in order for the city to move forward with the potential campground, and it would help to answer a lot of unknown questions.

“It sets us up to know what the costs will be,” he said. “It is a very important step for us.”

The proposed campground would be located next to the Third Street Bridge on the island. The site is currently a fenced-off area that is used as a storage and dump area for the city's Department of Public Works.

City Manager Pat McGinnis said the Northwest Design Group has prior experience working with camping areas.

“They just seemed like the logical choice and gave us a reasonable quote,” he said.

According to the agreement with the city, the consultant will create a base plan for the site, meet city staff to identify site opportunities and limitations, decide the level of service desired for the new campground, develop and draw conceptual design plans, estimate construction and operational costs, and determine the economic feasibility.

“They’ll let us know if it will be profitable or not,” Fritz said.

The discussion over whether or not to have a campground on Harbor Island began during a recent City Council goal-setting session.

Former Grand Haven Public Works Director Chuck Novak is heading a citizens task force to help develop ideas for the camp site.

“Our task force is meeting the week after next and coming up with some locally driven input on the things they’d be looking for at the campground, “ McGinnis said.

Once all of the input has been gathered and the time comes to make a decision, city leaders would likely make presentations in front of the city's planning and parks commissions, and again to City Council.

McGinnis said the city and Shell Oil — a former owner of the property — are working on coming up with a plan related to any environmental issues that may exist on the site.

“We’re wrapping things up with Shell Oil right now,” McGinnis said.

Given the site’s environmental history, city officials said they are also going to check with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to make sure a campground can be put there.

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