Don’t renew yacht club lease

To the Editor: Thirty-five years ago, Grand Haven’s waterfront was in ruins.
Jul 16, 2014


There was no waterfront park; and with Detroit automakers clobbered by Japan, most municipalities in Michigan were suffering economically, including Grand Haven. Under the leadership of Marge Boon, a decision was taken for a huge risk — to invest in the waterfront and hope tourists would come.

Now, imagine instead if Grand Haven, strapped for cash, had elected instead to lease the waterfront to private concerns, dividing it up among private marinas, rowing clubs and yacht clubs, and excluded the general public? In the present, Village of Spring Lake has been asked by principals of the Spring Lake Yacht Club to sign a lease that would grant that club control of that magnificent waterfront parcel of public land they have occupied since 1957 for the next three generations — 60 years.

In 1927, those 36 acres were deeded to the village by a private donor for a “park for the assembly, amusement, entertainment, education and recreation of the public” — not just for sailing elitists. This park could be refashioned along the lines of popular Pottawatomie Park in Grand Haven Township; and I am convinced become magnet, not only for locals, but for tourists, considering its magnificent vista, warm protected waters, ample room for parking and a variety of onshore amusements as well. 

I call on the village to renew a short-term lease only and take the courageous path toward establishing a park that will rival any in the Tri-Cities and beyond.

William Doolittle
Spring Lake



I'm not sure that I could agree with you less Mr. Doolittle. I am not a member of the SLYC, but I have friends who are, and they are hardly an elitist group. Their primary focus is to promote the sport of sailing to young people, using an inexpensive class of vessel. Dinghy sailing is a physical and environmentally friendly form of sport that these young people can enjoy for a lifetime. Using reverse-snobbery makes it clear that you have no experience with this group which invites the Lubbers Cup teams annually and regularly hold open houses. I personally like to look out on the lake and see the sails on a quiet morning. Better than watching a bunch of drunk college kids rafted together in every corner of the lake.
Further I doubt that the property would be a great economic boom to anyone. Ottawa county already has about 40 piece of land, some of which haven't been developed according to plan yet. This proposed park would be a good 25 minute walk from any business except the Reef Party store. Who is it that you see benefitting economically? There are already beaches / Kayak launches on the business side of the lake and nobody uses them except toddlers most of the time. Let the SLYC continue being a venerable institution and a good neighbor to the residents on the sunny side of the lake.


I couldn't agree more! Renew it for another 60 years!


You allege "Hardly elitist", but they casually asked the Village to give them free this property, donated for "public" enjoyment, worth millions? Only the greedy rich would have the arrogance to make such a request. Should the owner of Pronto Pups be handed deed to Waterfront Park in Grand Haven because that business has been there for decades?

Regarding sailing and young people - yes, precisely 1/2 of 1 percent of the population of surrounding municipalities who would potentially enjoy a park there are represented in the numbers of young people who sail at the Yacht Club. You would exclude thousands to benefit a couple of dozen kids? Oh, but YOU are not elitist. I thought Obama-math talked about the 99 percent versus the 1 percent.


So you are blaming Obama for this? What next - Obamacare? Your level of snark and sarcasm is suspect....


Elsewhere in this comment section you champion Obamacare, and attack Doolittle for critiquing it. The entire premise behind Obamacare was that it was allegedly unfair that ANY citizen not have full access to the health care system, yet in this instance you won't come out for every citizen having access to land specifically deeded for that purpose. Your meds are obviously confusing you.


I brought up Obamacare only because William Doolittle apparently was the author of the 6-part series on the topic. You brought up "Obama math" on your own, later. My premise was based solely on questioning the facts in this Letter to the Editor, based on Doolittle's history of a lack of facts in his previous writing.

Odd that you can't seem to sustain an opinion without delving into sarcasm and put-downs.


You are classic example of your type - you offer nothing of substance, just put-down's. Months after Doolittle's Obamacare series you are the one who raises it in the CURRENT context, but then refuse to cite specifics because the article was in the PAST - hypocrite.

You embrace Obamacare, health insurance for all, whether people want it or not, but won't embrace granting access for all to public land - hypocrite.

Regarding my raising Obama-math: presumably since the President won by popular vote, twice, his worldview is the consensus worldview within these borders. His worldview, stated hundreds of times, is that a tiny minority "the one percent" aggrandize to themselves all the cheese while the "the ninety-nine" percent are excluded. Only an elitist, only an elitist could be for extending yacht club lease for 60 years - hypocrite.


I agree with Mr. Doolittle. 60 years, really? A short term lease for SLYC with the hope/chance for a future park for the rest of us to enjoy sounds great!


More developed public land, more stifling summer traffic. No thanks, Billy.


Only a peculiar person would characterize converting that parcel into a park for public instead of present private use as "urban sprawl". I suppose you would advocate returning Yellowstone National Park to Piltdown Man?

River Man

It is public land and it is funny that it was hidden for years. Now all of a sudden they want to lock it down for 60 years!

The only way I would be for an exclusive lease is if they paid true market value or offered it up to bid!

I would like the chance to lease it too!

I am sure the lease would be far less then the tax revenue the land would create if it was in private hands.


They asked for deed to this multimillion dollar property just about a month ago. Foiled in that ploy, they now approach seizing the property by other means.


If this is the same William Doolittle who wrote the "educational" 6-part series on Obamacare that was riddled with inaccuracies, false assumptions, extreme biases, devoid of facts, statistics and just a plain old ordinary lack of common sense, I wouldn't put too much stock in his letter to the editor in terms of getting the big picture.

It's almost a sure bet his argument lacks the true picture, or, put another way, validity.


In Billy's defense, his typewriter was manufactured before vowels were invented.


If brainchild Lanivan would care to cite specific "inaccuracies, false assumptions, extreme biases, devoid of facts, statistics and just a plain old ordinary lack of common sense", that might help to bolster his or her argument. Otherwise, he or she is just more hot air.


No, I don't care to cite specifics. I already did during the actual time period of his faux "educational" 6-part series, when I pointed out a half dozen inaccuracies in the first paragraph of part #1. It quickly descended from there, until I didn't feel it was worth my time. As I recall, some posters mentioned suspending their subscriptions due to the inaccuracies. By the way, at the time, I completely substantiated my post with links.

As far as I'm concerned, once the deed is done with no attempt to improve or be accountable on Part #2 -#6, one loses all credibility. Sorry, suppresst, you just might have to take my word on it this time.


Fine Lanivan - then exercise your brain cells thus: defend granting a 60 year lease to a private yacht club that was donated for the express purpose of "public" enjoyment.


Before I defend anything, I attempt to get the untarnished facts. Past experience tells me Mr Doolittle's credibility is lacking in that regard, and if asked, I would recommend seeking out a more thorough and objective source before settling on an opinion.

Barry Soetoro

Yup, that's the guy! Saw him in D&W last week buying a jar of dill pickles.


Or was it a jar of those expensive, elitist bleu cheese-stuffed olives??


I think it is this guy
Looking for more public land to let dogs poop on.


I'm not a member of the club. Wouldn't want to be a member in anybodies club. However... Have helped some folks with their boats and am familiar with the grounds. Seem like good people. And shutting them down for a bunch of capitalism would be like closing down a boy scout camp to put up fast food joints. Not to mention the accompanying pollution. Noise and otherwise. Decade lease would be prudent.


The club wants to put major investments on site including docks and wave blockers and won't do it without a long term lease. Let them lease the building, put in new improvements, but keep the property and access to the water open to the public as it is today and everyone wins. Maybe this could be treated more like a municipal marina than a private yacht club, or maybe a joint effort. Public access to the water should be granted or maintained whenever possible.


I lived above the old rail road tracks (current bike path) and a swampy area that allowed me to fish the lake on the south side of Spring Lake. That precious area was filled in to build the Whipper Worth Home. Try slapping the D.N.R. in the face like that today! The public lost lake access in that case also. The Yatch Club was formed in mystery and I must admit had a wealthy boy aura! It did benefit many youth and adults by providing sailing skills. I enjoyed watching the sailfish and other sailing boats compete on the lake. Take a drive around Spring Lake and count the number of free public access locations remaining. For the size of the lake (25 miles around) there are very few public access locations remaining!
I am now feeling over 100 years old and strongly suggest the public demand that their elected officials take this location back and allow limited access for the Yatch Club, while establishing primary access for the public domain. This is the last location for the public to add free access to the lake and all that entails.


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