'Accident waiting to happen'

Residents who requested a no-wake zone in a stretch of the Grand River didn't receive full-throttle endorsement from the Spring Lake Township Board last week.
Marie Havenga
Aug 23, 2012


Township Manager Gordon Gallagher said “staff will do some research” and determine if there are alternatives to the full-speed zone that property owners say is an “accident waiting to happen.”

Both Spring Lake and Grand Haven townships have jurisdiction over that stretch of the river, which flows from the mouth of Pottawattomie Bayou west toward Robbins Road. The municipal rights of the two townships extend to the center of the waterway.

Concerned residents approached the Grand Haven Township Board last month.
Retired U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Roger Dubuc, who lives along the river in Grand Haven Township, told the Spring Lake Township Board that the river narrows in front of his home, and wakes from passing boats have been so large that they knocked his 21-foot ski boat out of its cradle.

“We have a real safety problem,” Dubuc said. “Somebody is going to get killed out there. We need to get out in front of this thing before it happens.”

Unless there is a posted no-wake zone, or boats are within 100 feet of a dock or moored boat, watercraft is allowed to go 55 mph on inland waters in Michigan. Residents told the Spring Lake Township Board it is not uncommon to see boats flying past their house at such speeds.

But several board members said they are reluctant to support a no-wake zone, in part because of the difficulty of enforcing it.

Trustee Larry Mierle, who has lived on the Grand River off Boom Road for 70 years, said he's concerned about taking away the rights of boaters. He said already many formerly unrestricted waterways have been changed to slow zones.

All of Spring Lake is no-wake for vessels 26 feet and above. Many of the bayous and stretches of the Grand River are no-wake for all watercraft.

“We are a recreational area and you're trying to take away all that,” Mierle said. “It's not just boating — you're taking away water skiing."

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




In these types of situations, nothing is usually done until something bad happens. Then it's too late. It seems like there is enough here that warrants change so that we don't have to look back with regrets. There are plenty of (other) places to cruise around at 55+ mph.
Reputation Management


Posted some of this before, but it applies here as well: The river is one thing but an even bigger problem is that of Spring Lake on the weekends. "No Wake" zones need to be the result of the evaluation of boat density vs. available space (wether river or lake). When there are many boats in a small space, it is very difficult for skippers to keep tabs on everything that is going on around them. This is when accidents happen. There are many boats on Spring Lake on the weekends and many of their operators are competent, responsible and peceptive individuals. It is difficult for even the best boaters to keep a weather eye for fishing boats, pleasure boats, kayaks, sailboats, stand up paddle boards, jet skis and the very small head of a tuber or water skiier that has fallen into the lake all at once. Yes, there are less perceptive people on the lake, and there are parents that allow their kids on towables when the lake is buzzing like a beehive which seems extremely iresponsible to me, but if they feel it's safe, fine. What scares me to death is the fact that the opportunity exists for even the most cautious skipper to be caught in an accident where somebody is seriously injured or worse, because he was distracted by another on the water activity. The narrow shape of Spring Lake, forces the boaters into a rather tight groove compared to neighboring Muskegon Lake and Lake Mackatawa. There are just too many boats on Spring Lake on the weekends for the space available. Would an ordinance to make Spring Lake "no wake" on the weekends be such a bad idea? Or would it proactively make it safer, reducing the potential for serious accidents or even death?


I totally agree with the no wake zone, it is a fact that there are way too many fast boats on Spring Lake for the size of the lake and an ever increasing numbers of boaters every summer, there should be a no wake zone for the entire Spring Lake if you ask me, and even at those points on the Grand River that some residents are requesting consideration from the Spring Lake Township Board. But as we all know that money is the issue and that tourist dollars are what runs the area politics and interests, but I guess we all can just continue to pay extra for special water treatments because of oil, waste and gas pollutants from so many boaters. I know that not all boaters are careless and I do applaud those who do care and who do understand the law. However our water ways are becoming crowded and polluted, do we act today or keep kicking the can down the road?


Accident an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss.
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