Light show on road to CG Park

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:53 PM

Holiday Road organizer Brad Boyink will present his proposal for the popular synchronized music and light show to City Council at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Ferrysburg City Hall, 17290 Roosevelt Road.

The show debuted in the Heather Court neighborhood on the west side of Spring Lake Township in 2006. It moved to Harbor Island in Grand Haven in 2007 and 2008, then back to Heather Court.

After Boyink sold his Heather Court home, the 2012 show took place indoors at a Norton Shores strip mall.

Boyink said a Facebook survey indicates that visitors overwhelmingly (70 percent) favor an outdoor show.

After much searching and measuring, Boyink said he determined the east side of Coast Guard Park would be an ideal location for the 200,000-light show. The target area is a 160-by-60-foot sandy area between the park's tennis courts and baseball diamonds.

“We spent a lot of time really thinking this out and keeping it very quiet while trying to negotiate a spot,” said Boyink, who is requesting a three-year commitment from the city. “We didn't even approach the city until we had all the logistics figured out.”

Boyink hopes to place five 10-by-12-foot storage buildings on the east side of the park and add facades to depict a 1950s-era downtown. The buildings and surrounding areas would be decorated with lights.

Speakers transmitting holiday tunes would face away from residential areas.

Traffic would enter Coast Guard Park from North Shore Road, proceed to the east, park for several minutes to view the show, then proceed around a cul-de-sac and back out to North Shore Road.

Boyink said there is more viewable area in the park than in the Heather Court neighborhood, so he expects shorter wait times and lines.

The city's Recreation Commission heard the proposal on Tuesday and recommends approval for a one-year trial.

But at least one member of City Council opposes the use of Coast Guard Park for the light show that draws about 70,000 visitors between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“There's only one ingress and egress on North Shore Road,” said Councilwoman Regina Sjoberg, who will be out of town and not present for Monday's meeting. “I can't imagine anyone living out on North Shore wanting this to happen. To me, this shows a disregard for the people who live out here, a lack of planning and a lack of long-term critical thinking.”

Sjoberg said she is also concerned that the buildings may be vandalized if they are left for the three years that Boyink wants for the show.

“I lost sleep last night thinking (City Council) would approve this,” she said. “What they need to do is move this south or north of town in a big field where they can get out many different ways.”

Sheila Steffel, a member of the city's Recreation Commission, said the panel was in unanimous support of Boyink's proposal.

“There were some concerns brought up about traffic flow and vandalism of the structures, but we approved a motion to have it proceed forward with the idea of reviewing it after the show is over,” she said.

Steffel said if City Council approves the plan, Holiday Road officials would be responsible for paying for police staffing, electricity and liability insurance.

“The main concern was traffic and making sure residents west of that have no problem getting back and forth to their home,” she said. “Brad did a good job presenting how traffic would flow.”

Steffel said she thinks the popular show that benefits Special Olympics would also benefit the city.

The show generates between $30,000 and $50,000 a year for Special Olympics. Boyink has also promised a portion of proceeds to the city's park commission. He declined to name a number, but said it would be enough to purchase playground equipment.

“The show has received some national recognition,” Steffel said. “It's always nice to see your city's name mentioned. It would put Ferrysburg on the map.”

City Manager Craig Bessinger said if council on Monday concurs with the Recreation Commission's recommendation, final approval would not occur until City Council's Aug. 5 meeting.

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