New boardwalk restroom plan creates a stink

A proposed new restroom facility along Grand Haven’s boardwalk has come under fire from residents who live along Harbor Drive.
Alex Doty
May 20, 2014


The city has applied for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant to fund construction of a restroom building at Lighthouse Connector Park, near the entrance to the Fisherman’s Lot at the state park. It would be located in the old trolley turnaround and include a vendor stand.

"That's an awful lot of obstruction to our view," resident James Rooney said. "How would you like to live there from 6-10 p.m. listening to a vendor stand?"

The planned facility is based on the city’s five-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which has been submitted to the DNR and approved by the state. Construction of the facility is a top priority in the plan.

City Manager Pat McGinnis noted that the city applied for the grant on behalf of the state park. The park would put it on their property and the park is eyeing the new location.

Early plans call for the facility to be similar to ones at City Beach. It would have multiple unisex toilet stalls, as well as a vendor area.

It would replace the "minnow shack" restrooms located near the base of the pier, adjacent to the state park campground. The city expects the project to cost $359,000.

Despite the promise in a letter to residents that the facility would be shrouded as much as possible, residents still weren't keen on the plan.

"If it is constructed, what is it going to do to the value of our property?" Rooney wondered. "I object (and ask) that it never be (built)."

Harbor Drive resident Terry Casey suggested that the restroom be built in a different location.

"I would have no problem if this was down, out of sight, by Nibbles," he said.

To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Sorry Harbor Drive residents, we don't feel bad for you. A good chunk of your homes are seasonal and the full-time residents purchased in full knowledge of the traffic on the Boardwalk and in the State Park. I'm assuming you purchased the house because of its proximity these referenced services. Please feel free to join us on the low service east side where we have one park (East End), no beach, little police coverage and a sewage plant. Don't complain about having opportunity and privilege.

Way to go city and state park this is a much needed project!


"Don't complain about having opportunity and privilege."? Maybe someone worked harder and smarter then you did. Nice 'Woe to me 'cause I live on the other side of the tracks'attitude. I was born cold and naked too.


Try to get your home reappraised for a lower value due to the new outhouses and save a couple of bucks on your taxes.

Grand Haven Happy

For crying out loud! The proposed virtually hidden restrooms and concession stand will NOT lower any area homeowners values. Get a grip of reality! It will be so much better than the Minnow Shack's (I used to buy minnows there for fishing off the pier even 60 years ago) very small and outdated rest rooms as they are in urgent need of extreme upgrading, repair, and building enlargement anyway. The new quality building will likely increase property values and be very good for people walking the boardwalk, fishermen, and others at the same time. That's what they are for!

Besides, the new building isn't even close to the homes, cottages, seasonal use structures etc there as it's to be on STATE PARK PROPERTY and not on city owned property! A bunch of NIMBY WIMBY'S but they sure don't care if it was to be built near someone else's homes!!!

The concession stand area is not a huge building with many small food shops but a place for even you property owners to get some simple snacks if desired and keep visitors from using the trees and bushes in that area for a bathroom and yes, we have seen it done more than once.

Please build the new facility as it's sorely needed and yes, surround the building with trees and bushes as much as practical. A real win for everyone in the long run!

Real estate maven

The will, needs and desires of the many over those of the few. It's called democracy and it works. Lots of benefits to many and no real harm to the few in this instance.


Hello...359,000 dollars for a bathroom and concession??? Who are they contracting with?? I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bath house with a full kitchen, laundry, and basement that is less than 200,000. WTF is with the price for a bath house and a concession?


100,000 for research plus kickbacks and the union need to do the work.

Tri-cities realist

Don't forget the Environmental Impact Study...


I would be up to city hall wanting why a bathroom would cost that much, not just you, everybody, i think we can build that thing for lot less,

Grand Haven Happy

There are no water lines, sewer lines, or electric lines near the location and all have to be installed. That's not cheap! Then add in that the building must be built to commercial codes with heating and cooling plus non-combustible construction requirements and an automatic sprinkler system because it's a public building on state park land. Also requires a large concrete area up to commercial safety codes with picnic tables, trash receptacles and sidewalk areas to and from the bathroom and concession areas and/or seating to the boardwalk and the fisherman's parking area.

A commercial food building has a ton of requirements such as all stainless steel where food will be on or sold from. Note what restaurants have in their kitchens to meet health department codes. A totally different world in electrical requirements and so much more. Then there's the waste container area which must be concealed and lockable to meet codes. Now add the landscaping and view blocking trees and bushes which are part of the plan.

A home may have 2 bathrooms but this building is scheduled to have a min of 8 bathrooms which are needed because of the extremely high boardwalk and pier traffic. The bachrooms have to have plumbing and equipment to enable hosing down the interior of each stall. Will have a large air exchange system for ventilation. Home building codes are far different from commercial and public use buildings. Commercial buildings cost severl times what homes cost per square foot.

Yes, because of likely union labor being used, the cost will be about 1-1/2 times what the project would cost if bidding were let to all reputable construction companies, both union and non-union.


"It would replace the "minnow shack" restrooms located near the base of the pier".
Are they really considering doing away with the current restrooms if the new restrooms are constructed? I certainly hope not.
Granted the facilities are old, but they still operate and function. The location is perfect to service both campers and those on the boardwalk. Seems to me that acquiring funds to do a major upgrade on the existing structure would make far more sense. But unfortunately critical thinking and forethought don't usually seem to play a big part in decisions that are made in this area.


I agree with just-a-guy....keep the minnow shack restrooms for sure and upgrade them. Why should the pier fishermen have to walk any further than they do now? The DNR can't even find the time or money to replace the broken urinal in the men's bathroom that has been missing for two seasons now. What's up with that? And, by the way, why is the gate to the fisherman's parking lot locked? Having to use the new campground entrance and exit is a pain in the butt. Building a new facility closer to the pier where water and sewer lines already exist makes more sense to me. Maybe then we would not have to smell the urine around the lighthouses where the fishermen are peeing now....yuck! I can understand this when the weather is too cold to have the water turned on but now that the minnow shack restrooms are open and available I would hope that the fishermen will take the time to walk over to them...come on guys! Your urine stinks to high heaven out there! There...I got that off my chest!


$359,000. ? i want to see 3 estimates from local builders


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