OUR VIEWS: Harbor Island campground is a good idea

Nov 1, 2012


We commend Grand Haven City Council for suggesting a possible campground on Harbor Island at last year’s goal-setting session — and for identifying a consultant to provide layouts, cost estimates and feasibility analysis.

The $10,000 cost of the study is included in the city’s 2012-13 budget.

We encourage the council to move full-steam ahead.

The property on the north side of the Third Street Bridge is owned by the city, and is currently used by the Grand Haven Department of Public Works and other contractors as a dumping and storage site.

Before moving forward, however, an environmental study must be completed to make sure the area is safe for use as a campground. In the early- to mid-1900s, the site was used for many years as the city dump. In those days, there weren’t many regulations and it was common knowledge that toxic wastes were deposited there.

Obviously, the only way this project can move beyond the initial study phase is if the environmental study comes back with an all-clear report. The last thing we want is for a campground to be built in a place where children are playing in an unsafe, unhealthy environment.

Harbor Island already boasts a bike path, fishing spots, a boardwalk and boat launching ramps. A campground would tie in perfectly with the city’s awesome waterfront.

The transformation from a site now containing piles of refuse and chain-linked fencing to a beautiful campground would also greatly enhance the city’s gateway from the north, as the island is very visible from U.S. 31.

There’s little doubt the campground would be able to fill up sites. Just look at the Grand Haven State Park, which routinely has all 174 of its sites booked to capacity throughout the summer months.

And the best part in these trying economic times is that operating a campground could be a bonanza for the city’s budget. There would be initial development costs — but once operating, it could be a revenue producer.

City Manager Pat McGinnis said the city would only move forward with construction if it had City Council backing and it was determined that the campground would be self-sufficient.

Councilman Mike Fritz noted that money raised from the campground could be used to supplement other city funds.

It sounds like a win-win situation.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


Tri-cities realist

"The last thing we want is for a campground to be built in a place where children are playing in an unsafe, unhealthy environment." Aren't there already soccer fields on Harbor Island?


I think you may have the locations mixed up, the proposed campground is just over the 3rd street bridge next to the little channel that runs by the Wharf Marina not on Harbour Island. The only unhealthy environment would be someones child falling and landing in goose or deer poo.


Thanks for the clarification ghresident. I would support if its not on top of an old dump.


the whole of Harbor Island was a dump. I remember it well, did my first pickin' there, and still have the 1st thing I ever picked...a child's rocking chair my dad recovered in 1959. GHResident is wrong, the whole island was a dump, not just where the soccer field is (which was the biggest part of the dump). But even where the power plant is now. All businesses dumped leftover barrels of chemicals there along with household trash and toxic wastes. Glass has been rising up out of the ground at the old Holland dump for years, as glass does over time. I would be leery of my kids or grandkids playing on that soccer field, and I just can't see where any kind of environmental study could possibly come back clean anywhere out there on that island.


I never said the whole area wasnt a dump, just a clarifacation of where the campground is intended to be built. That area if I remember right used to hold the storage tanks for the fuel terminal.


Oh, OK, ya, sorry. Thought they meant off to the west where the road takes a bend past that. You are right, that would be a safer area- where the gas/diesel/oil 100,000 gallon steel tanks were rusting apart so they removed them. Isn't that right below where the Wharf is set to erect a 5 story condo building? That would be interesting to hear the uproar from them.


Yep thats the spot........lol! I can hear the condo owners now......Oh honey we have such a great view of a flippin campground from our brand new unit..........bwahahahahahahahaha


Dang just after I hit the submit button and got another cup O mud.....Wham! it hit me. So what about the city's recreational fire rules? 99% of all campgrounds allow campfires, so with a northeast wind the campfires will fill the area of the Wharf with campfire smoke? Hang on I while I find that article......,,,,,,Ah here we go "8. Burning that is offensive or objectionable because of smoke emissions or when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances that makes such fires hazardous. You will be asked to extinguish." So, if a neighbor is violating the code, or the burning is "offensive or objectionable" because of the smoke, call the Department of Public Safety and report it. http://www.grandhaventribune.com.... Will the campground be exempt? Probably so since the City is exempted from everything else. I can see the advertisement now, Come and check out Grand Havens newest campground! Great views of a Mercury and lead filled channel that offers some fantastic fishing. Within a short walking distance to soccer fields built on top of an old city dump where your children can play in goose and deer poo all day long, located next to a brand spankin new condo with views of a half million dollar boats for your children to throw stones at.


He, he ghresident. Your on it this morning! Might want to cut back on the caffeine. Maybe they could just pave over the whole area. That would seal it in nice and tight and allow all that toxic mess to leach into the Grand poop river. Besides, most that "camp" in these kind of campgrounds don't want dirt tracked into there units!


ya 8 cups might have been WAY to much....lol


I do believe you are on to something there Wing. I think you should run for city council, I would vote for you (if I lived in the city).


Hey thanks for the support 43, but no thanks. Pretty sure I would P off too many people with my direct approach to problems!


I don't know anyone who would want to go camping next to a noisy highway. To me its a waste of city time and money. If people want to camp there are many other places close by to camp, Hoffmaster and the gh state park to name two. We can use our money for better things.


Gee I wounder why Campers Paridise and the old Yogi Bear always have campers if they didnt want to be by a highway? Theres also one close to Holland off 31 and one just north of Vanwagner on 31 that always seems to have campers too. Besides the campground would be over 1/2 mile from 31 and all revinue would go directly to the city unlike the state parks camping fees.


I don't understand the need to fill this wonderful open space with anything. I think part of Grand Haven's charm is Duncan Woods, the dog run behind the Y, and Harbor Island..the few open spaces that we haven't developed. Harbor Island is such a great place for walking, biking, fishing...the big open field is a great place for kids to play sports.
I would love to see those fences on the east side of the third street bridge come down & extend the walkways down there. If we develop this area it is just one less place where our deer can live (until the snipers come & hunt them down)
I just hate to see that area that does not seem all that large, packed full of campers & trucks & cars & bathhouses & firepits...why not just a natural area? Maybe with a kayak rental & launch...that waterway back there would be a great place for canoes, kayaks...birdwatching...I guess I am a tree hugger looking for peace in a crazy world.
You don't know what you've got til it's gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot...


Pave it, put an arena there for sporting events, concerts...and generate tax base for Grand Haven. You want nature, go out to Robinson township and, oh wait their putting a highway thru there.


I agree with harbor island/duncans woods comments, except for the fact that duncans woods used to be so much less cemetary and so much more woods. The cemetary is kind of a waste of precious space in a continuously developing grand haven city, in my humble opinion. We need to move it out of the area not expand it. I would think we'd want to develop harbor island for farmers market and parks that we can enjoy 365 days a year, not only tourists for the 4 months of the year that they will be interested in visiting grand haven. Develop the GH community not just our tourism.


Bwhahahaha ya, move over 7,000 bodies. Anyone have 25 acres and some spare time or $$ for that? hahahaha, WOW someone has been into their Daddy's stash! Have another hit honey. Let's build some condos where the cemetery is so we can ALL enjoy that wasted space!! LOL Sure can't enjoy walking through that quiet 'park' memorial grounds with the deer running wild in there 365 days a year.


I suspect that after they've shelled out the 10K for their "study" they'll have the same input I'd give 'em for a month's worth of breakfasts at Jeanne's. This is a fairly small area for a campground so I suggest just paving the whole area with a foot's worth of asphalt to mitigate the need for any environmental impact studies and then paint the white lines that delineate the "camping" sites as close together as possible. Think of it as a smaller version of the State Park, but without the broken pavement and view of the pier. Maybe import some sand for ambiance and put in a play area for the kids to keep them from wandering over to the channel and falling in.....Hmmm, I think I need to study this a bit more.


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