In its lame-duck session in December, the Michigan Legislature approved numerous pet projects including a grant of $1.5 million for ongoing maintenance projects at Grand Haven State Park. The funds will help complete renovations and envision new uses for the historic structure, according to Michigan Department of Natural Resources Regional Supervisor Gary Jones.
A grant in September of $1.9 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. helped begin parking lot paving and roof replacement, which Jones said are expected to be completed when the campground opens in May. About 70 additional spaces are expected for the lot, which is often filled during summer days.
The addition of new toilets will help meet state compliance, Jones said.
The building known as the pavilion once contained concession stands, public seating and second-story housing for staff, Jones said. Much of the space is currently used for storage.
Architects are considering ways to get more out of the building, which could include indoor concessions, open-air seating and renting out lodging space. A first aid station and office space could help increase staff presence at the site, Jones said.
These ideas have not been formalized in specific plans, Jones added, but several options are on the table.
“It’s not being used as well as it could be for the public or for the staff,” he said.
A plan could be finalized by spring, but maintenance tasks will be prioritized, Jones said.
The traffic loop and parking spaces near the channel are open year-round, while the beach parking lots open May 1.
Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis said the new parking lot will last longer than the previous construction, which would break up and crumble during snow removal, causing a “never-ending nightmare.”
Then-Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, who was term limited in 2018, helped secure state support for the park during his time in office, McGinnis said, including the recent grant funding.
The state park hosts more than 1 million visitors each year, Jones said, and its 174 campsites host more than 19,000 camp nights annually.
The camping season will be extended this year through Oct. 26.
“It is one of the busier parks in the state park system,” Jones said. “We’re very happy to see the amount of improvements that will have a direct impact on visitors.”