State Park sewer issue shines light on a rather foul issue

A rather foul situation recently at Grand Haven State Park has shined a light on some of the hidden issues with running one of the state’s most popular campgrounds.
Aug 15, 2014


It has also drawn some criticism from visitors and residents alike.
A sewer line break at the park forced park staff to close the beach bathrooms. While officials worked to try and fix this problem, portable toilets were placed outside the restroom facilities.
Visitors and park officials reported “tremendous use” of the portable toilets during that time, which, according to some who wrote to the Tribune, caused a smelly, unpleasant situation.
While it’s nice to see the state park try to accommodate visitors by placing temporary toilets, given the amount of traffic this community asset receives during the busy summer months, more should have been done.
It should be a top priority to make sure all of our state park visitors have a proper restroom to use — not an overflowing porta-potty
If this meant placing additional toilets at the park, or having more frequent cleanings, then so be it.
Everyone pays a price to get into state parks, whether it be an entrance fee or a special tab on state license plates.
This money should be used to make sure that all park infrastructure is in working order.
Incidents like this most recent one are an example of what can happen when we let things sit unmodified for too long.
Our hope is that this latest incident lets state recreation officials know of the importance aging infrastructure has at our state parks, and how we shouldn’t take instances where this system fails lightly — especially at the busy Grand Haven State Park.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.




But watch out for hoodlums on skateboards!

Grand Haven Happy

There is absolutely no excuse for letting a sewer break causing such a long term problem for tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of unsuspecting humans/families who had paid for the park's usage. People pay to enter/stay at the park and a sewer break is an extreme health problem and should have been IMMEDIATELY FIXED! It's NOT rocket science, it's an underground sewer line and being an engineer, quite simply fixed if wanted to be! Not passed the problem on to the paying/user public as usual. There's NO excuse for months of having portable toilets in such a very heavily used public venue, NONE, ZERO, NATA!

Any virtual idiot could have simply used a camera probe to find where the break is and then fix it PRONTO! Excuses will never fix ANYTHING!!! Also could have simply installed a portable pump unit placed at a temporary outlet installed before the break area and pump the liquids into tank trucks and be hauled away as that would not have interrupted normal activity at the park and made so much sense but alas, common sense doesn't seem to be common anymore in today's world! What's the excuse for NOT doing that?

I'm very ashamed of the reactions taken by the Grand Haven State Park leaders and the State of Michigan! You have now turned so many visitors off as to going the Grand Haven State Park in the future and I've heard it over and over this summer mostly from long time annual visitors. Thanks for screwing up what the area has worked so hard to build up and promote!!! No one has worked harder for the last over 50 years to bring visitors to our area than myself and our family. Yes, I'm very dismayed and disturbed as to what had let happen with this sewer situation! What ever happened to responsibility and doing the right thing and fast? A few heads should roll and soon! Simply disgusting/worse and the public needs/deserves real answers and appropriate action taken therefore, not the BS excuses heard!!!


I wish the Tribune would have done a fact finding mission before they wrote this. A quick conversation with Joyce at the park would lead you to the CORRECT answers and response that they DID provide. I know the story, but I'll let the Tribune staff do their job and provide FACTS about the situation.

Barry Soetoro

You're asking for quite a bit there Dave...


The Tribune staff certainly is entitled to their opinion, but it would be appropriate if they would offer an informed opinion. The staff at the park exercised everything within their power to resolve the situation ASAP. If the authors of this opinion would have truly ascertained the facts before writing this, they would have been able to offer an accurate dissertation. Hat's off to the Grand Haven State Park staff. We are truly blessed to be able to enjoy such a great place.

Back to the Wall

The Tribune editorial staff has never let facts get in the way of a good story, why should they start now?


The Grand Haven State Park has suffered from a lack of attention and upgrades for a long time, so the fact that this happened should be no surprise to anyone that has spent any time there.

Earlier this year, for the first time since I moved here in 1977, a small portion of the busted up parking lot on the beach side was upgraded/repaved. The fisherman's parking lot was also redone, but it is a engineering boondoggle/disaster. Whoever designed the layout must have held a D+ average in college. I won't bother to list all the problems with the design, but anybody that has used it this summer should be able to figure out at least a couple of the problems. Some years ago the camping area's bathroom was also redone, but these were all band-aid fixes to what should have been a major restructuring of one of the state's highest revenue generating state parks.

I'm sure over the last 35 years or so that I've been around here that the park has generated enough revenue to redo the whole place several times over. Where has all that money gone? Probably to a park on the East side of the state, certainly it has not been reinvested in this town's state park.

Frankly the place is an embarassment when compared to most other state parks in Michigan. I've done a lot of camping in a lot of them over the last 40+ years and Grand Haven's is one of the worst. There are so many things that could be done to make it more attractive and functional, but I suppose, given the general attitude of the residents, why should we fix it up?, it'd just bring more of the dreaded tourist vermin to town and we certainly don't want that now do we?!

NoHope's bragging camp?

Grand Haven Happy


Those who know who I am also know that I speak the truth about promoting/bringing in countless visitors to the Grand Haven Area constantly for over 50 years now. However, since you don't and won't know my identity and that's fine, just don't fret about something you really know nothing about.

BTW, just what have you done personally to help promote your local area anyway? Probably nothing and just what I suspect!


So I don't and I won't know who you are or what you've done for grand haven, but you already know what I have or have not done for the community? I don't believe in making sure people know I have helped the community, I just enjoyed the satisfaction of helping others. I hope you called the state park and offered your time and talents to remedy the situation.


Pathetic! Like little kids.


I agree !!


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.