Why are the beach restrooms closed?

An angry visitor, who did not leave a name, wrote that he/she is “absolutely appalled at the restroom facilities at the Grand Haven State Park.”
Mark Brooky
Jul 23, 2014


“My family and I are up here on vacation from Florida. We are spending thousands of dollars in your city and can't even go to the bathroom while at the beach,” the visitor wrote to the Tribune on Sunday. “Apparently, the pavilion restrooms are out of order, so there are port-a-johns set up. Well, the port-a-johns are near over-flowing. This is absolutely unacceptable! Why are they not emptied every day? While I was at the port-a-johns, there was an 88-year-old handicapped woman that needed to use the restroom and couldn't because of the condition of the port-a-johns. She and her daughter said that ‘this will be the last time we come to this beach! Next year, we will spend our time and money in Saugatuck!’ My family will also find another place in Michigan where we spend our time and money. There is no excuse for this.”


Keep in mind that the state park beach is owned and operated by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, and not the City of Grand Haven. Therefore, Roland Johnson of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division provided our answer.

While a sewer break is never a good time, Johnson said July is a most unfortunate time for it to happen at the popular beach.

“Please know that a sewer line break forced staff to close the beach bathrooms,” Johnson said. “While staff has been trying to get additional portable toilets, and find and repair the sewer line, there has been tremendous use of the nine portable toilets. The toilet contractors will be pumping the nine existing toilets and nine additional toilets twice a day until this emergency is resolved.

“Staff are working tirelessly to restore the modern bathrooms and are grateful for visitors’ patience,” he continued. “We regret that this sewer line chose the two warmest weekends we have had yet this summer to fail.”

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If you think that the State Park is bad ... check out the North Shore Pier restrooms!!! Doors are missing, no toilet paper, and absolutely smelly and filthy!!!!!!!!!!!!! And that is part of the city of Grand Haven!! We visited there a few weeks ago and will not be going back anytime soon!


Last I knew the North Beach park is owned and operated by Ottawa County, not the city of Grand Haven.


There is a City Grand Haven sign at the entrance of the North Shore pier parking lot.


Didn't know there was a park near the pier, the only one I know of is the county park where North Shore Road turns South along the beach and North Shore Estates Road heads North. Haven't had a reason to be at the north pier in close to 40 years.


Oh no! Please keep your thousands here. Grand Haven cannot possibly make it without your money! As a resident I will most certainly lose sleep over this. Hopefully coast guard festival can replace your void...

Barry Soetoro

Have fun in Saugatuck! Buh-bye!


Actually, they are gonna hate Saugatuck, if their main criteria is the number of available public bathrooms. If memory serves me correctly, there is one public facility for the entire downtown. If you are by The Butler, you have about a 6-block hike ahead of you to the closest rest room. And none of the stores offer public facilities.

Barry Soetoro

Too bad for them then. They can stay home and spend those thousands to go see the Mouse. A win-win for everybody.


Right. They were probably the inconsiderate people ahead of me in line at Butch's Burritos that couldn't make up their minds, had tons of questions, kept changing their order, and then fished around for exact change to pay. Good riddance! I was hungry, darn it! (Dare I say that this might have been the cause of their port-a-potty problems??)


y'all hit the port o' jons hard afterwards?


this may have a contributing factor to the overflow


These were likely the same people that wrote the word "POOP" with poop, on the wall of the changing courts at Hoffmaster about 12 years ago.


Touron: Mix between a tourist and moron.

Tri-cities realist

Good one!


The state park is horribly mismanaged. There are never enough parking spots, yet they let the campers hog the few available spots with tow vehicles and boats. Grand Haven should be run like Muskegon: if you can't fit it on your site, you've got to leave it at home.


Run like Muskegon! People from Muskegon come to Grand Haven beaches so they don't have to go through the hood. That Kevlar vest will leave an awful tan line.


While I would agree that having a sewer line break isn't something they could have predicted. Unless they had signs that there was a problem beforehand. Which is a possibility. But finding the source of the break isn't difficult with the video equipment available today. And the right, qualified people on site. Granted, getting to it to do a repair isn't easy sometimes. But it doesn't have to take that long, if fixing it is a priority. Which is usually where places like the State run park fall flat on their faces. The State Park simply doesn't have their priorities straight. And not just in this instance. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that the lack of understanding of issues. Lack of forethought and use of common sense seems to decrease the further up the management chain you go.
Although the improvements made to the park in the last year are very nice. If there are issues with aging facilities in the Park. Then what are the States priorities.
Also, one thing that puzzles me. Is they just put in the new parking lot exit onto Harbor. But half the time they have it blocked. Why is that? I'm sure the reasoning would be interesting to hear.


police are sniffing around for clues


I've traveled extensively in this country and abroad; a month ago I visited the Grand Canyon. Throughout my travels I've been to many parks and recreational areas. One constant I've noticed is that, whether I was at a private, city, county, state or federal park, all park restrooms at very least smell bad and are often closed for cleaning or repair. I'm not sure where this Floridian lives in Florida (or some of the commenters here as well) but I'm very familiar with the state and I haven't found their park restrooms any different there.

I do agree with some of the commenters who wish this Floridian well in Saugatuck. If this person isn't returning because of the park restrooms, it's also likely, before they wrote this article, that they weren't returning to the hotel they stayed at because they only gave them decaf coffee in the in-room coffee basket by accident; and weren't going to return to a local restaurant because their hamburger didn't automatically come with fries! I'm probably exaggerating but my point is that it seems likely that these people were miserable before the toilets ruined their vacation in GH and they probably found fault at all the locations they visited while in town, costing every local business. These type of people should really stay home instead of traveling because if they think every destination will be a utopia then clearly they will be disappointed. I don't even wish them on Saugatuck but rather them there than GH!

Grand Haven Happy

We travel the the country a lot and have for 51 years now in our RV's and Florida and the southern states have on average the worst bathrooms in the USA. Most plain stink and usually have several of the toilets, showers, and sink areas "Out of Order". Seen many of them with signs on the doors "Closed for Cleaning" and they are closed for days we're there which perhaps means the health department etc ordered them to be closed.


Last spring we were arguing about dogs being allowed at the beach cause they might go potty down there, now the tourists can't go potty down there neither, woof woof ! !


You're at the beach, just go swimming.


That was i was just thinking, head for the water, now the beach will be closed until further notice, because someone pooped in the water


One would assume that the sewer line just fed into the channel like all other cities down river...


Agreed, however other cities are 'up' river.


Thank you, Michigan DNR, for fouling the air, metaphorically and physically, by not keeping the portajohns emptied and clean during tourist season.


There seems to be a lot of visitors that perhaps are not appreciative, no matter what the circumstances are. I believe Grand Haven State Psrk is a beautiful place and we are blessed to live here. It's all relative. There are people that live in cramped cities that never see a lake as nice as ours and would give anything to visit our park, or to live near the water. How about recognizing our blessings instead of focusing on faults. We can always find the latter, if we look hard enough.


When I read about the north pier parking lot restrooms and pot holes I took a ride out there to see for myself. There are a few pot holes that should be filled but they are not as bad as someone on here has mentioned. The restrooms have been repaired and cleaned and there is plenty of toilet paper. There is a new door frame on one of the restrooms and both doors are in place. Thank you for your efforts City of Grand Haven employees!
Now.......can we get a drinking fountain at Bi-centennial park?


While I agree with the folks that are dissatisfied, I am somewhat amazed at the remarks made by The City of Grand Haven. They are at the forefront here because people visit the City based on the City not the State Park regulations, not the County regulations, nor the port o potty contractor that is used.

The City of Grand Haven's image is under assault because of the State Park and full potties. I think the City needs to add 3-4 additional rest room facilities along the waterfront and a couple more in the City.

Adequate facilities will bring more visitors to the area. Image is everything.

Say no to new taxes

Why do people think it is funny to plug up the sewers in public restrooms? You wouldn't believe what people flush down a toliet, then chuckle when it overflows all over the floor. And that's after they steal all of the toliet paper and hand soap. Remember pay toliets? They installed them in San Francisco recently and they work great. Fully automatic, the city mails you back anything that didn't pass through the filter that prevents the sewer line from becoming plugged. Credit cards accepted!



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