City boat launch closed amid high water

Alexander Sinn • May 24, 2019 at 1:00 PM

After City of Grand Haven closed its boat launch on Harbor Island on Thursday to repair potholes in the flooded parking lot, officials are working to keep it open for the holiday weekend. 

The launch at the end of Coho Drive has been partially submerged by the Grand River this spring amid historic high water levels. The city’s public works director, Derek Gajdos, said potholes began forming under the water that’s spilling over the road, making it unsafe for vehicles with trailers.

Crews are working on a plan to open the boat launch by Memorial Day weekend, Gajdos said, including traffic barrels and snow fencing to mark the edge of the launch. Efforts this spring to repair low roadways on Harbor Island have been challenging, he said. 

“Fighting Mother Nature is an uphill and/or losing battle, but we’re doing everything we can,” he said.

The city gains about $60,000 annually from the launch, the public works director said, selling $10 day passes and seasonal passes for residents and nonresidents.

At the corner of Coho Drive and North Third Street, city crews worked Thursday to pump water out of the road where large potholes have formed. Gajdos said Friday that the corner was successfully patched Thursday night. 

Pothole repair is impossible when the holes are filled in with water, Gajdos added, and high water levels expected to last through summer do not bode well for road improvements. The water pumping at this location is necessary to maintain access to Grand Isle Marina, he added.

“At least it has one way in instead of no way in,” he said.

On Harbor Island Drive east of U.S. 31, the parking lot of Hall’s Sports Center is swallowed by the Grand River. Gajdos said a pothole “the size of two cars” lurks beneath the water, which is 8-12 inches deep, and the site “went from an uphill battle to an impossible battle” this week as the river continued to rise. 

Alternative launch sites

The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety recommends using East Grand River Park, at the east end of Franklin Avenue, for launching small boats. Parking at this launch is limited.

Another suggestion is the Odawa/Battle Point boat launch at 14091 144th Ave., Grand Haven Township.

Access is also available in Port Sheldon at the Pigeon River boat launch for large watercraft and the Pigeon River boat launch for large watercraft. Consumers Energy officials said Friday repairs to the Pigeon Lake pier in Port Sheldon were completed and the pier will be open for the weekend. 

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials said there are no shoreline flooding issues at Petty’s Bayou on Spring Lake or Indian Channel in Nunica.

There is water on the south side of the ramp on Lloyd’s Bayou in Spring Lake, DNR Unit Manager Patrick Whalen said, but the pier is usable.

Bruce Bayou east and west, and the Robinson Township launch were accessible as of May 17, Wharton said, while the Bass River Recreation Area is not usable due to high water levels. Bruce’s East and Robinson Township will be checked today and the piers will be adjusted, if necessary, Wharton said.

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