Why 12 Very Old Trees Were Removed from Orchard Lake Boat Launch Site
Mayor, State Representative and area riparians met with State Department of Natural Resources last week to discuss the controversial construction project.
It was communications difficulties, rather than destructive tendencies, which led to concern over construction at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) public launch site on Orchard Lake.
Mayor Bruce McIntyre, State Rep. Chuck Moss (R-40th District), and area riparians met last week to better understand the $300,000 project, which temporarily closed down the site Sept. 4. The DNR announced Aug. 27 that the site will remain closed until mid-October in order to revamp the site to modern standards.
That wasn't enough time to allow riparians the opportunity to remove their boats, the crowd said, nor was it appropriate given the number of days left in the season before the weather became too cold for boating.
"We can understand the necessity of it, but we were basically happy with the site. We wish (the DNR) had told us sooner," McIntyre said at the meeting in City Hall Friday.
Luba Sitar, a district manager with the DNR who works in Southeast Michigan, said that the DNR only knew the exact dates it would close on Aug. 21 after working out a schedule with its hired design team and contractors.
The project could not be moved further into fall, Sitar said, due to unpredictable weather conditions which can halt construction.
"It gets very unwieldy to give exact dates," she said. "We try to let riparians know as soon as we know."
Residents asked the DNR for time to remove their boats on weekdays in addition to Saturdays and Sundays, to allow for ample time to hire contractors with tractor trailers to help move their boats.
Sitar said that the DNR intends to open the site at various weekends during construction and that residents would be notified through different media as quickly as possible.
100-year-old trees at outdated site
Sitar added that the project needs to begin this year in order to take advantage of available funds and to rebuild a site which has became outdated.
"The last time the launch was paved was in 1973," Sitar said. "The problem is that it was designed in an era of smaller boats, smaller trailers, and smaller vehicles. ...We looked to bringing everything up to current standards, including universal accessibility."
The construction project also includes redesigning the launch area for increased maneuverability, paving the driveways and parking lot, and adding landscaping to absorb run-off before it reaches the lake, Sitar said.
"What we hear all day long, every day, is grouching from boaters who get held up there at the maneuver area," Sitar said, not directly referring to the Orchard Lake launch area. "This site had the space to improve along the maneuver area. ... You say you were happy with it, but we think you'll be happier when you see this."
The landscaping will consist of native species and an eco-friendly rain garden that will absorb run-off before it reaches the lake. Bio-logs will help ensure shoreline stabilization.
Another point of contention for Orchard Lake residents is the removal of about one dozen trees, some of which, McIntyre said, could be older than 100 years. One resident remarked that the city ordains residents to inform them when they would like to cut down any number of trees at their property.
"If (the DNR) would have told us about this sooner, we could have submitted alternate plans which would not have cut down so many trees," McIntyre said.
Moss added, "If (the DNR) had included the local government more, this could be avoided. ... It’s a terrible pain in the butt, but it makes things less a pain in the butt down the road."
This project is funded through the Michigan State Waterways Fund, a restricted fund derived from the collection of boat registration fees, a portion of the Michigan marine fuel tax and user fees, according to the DNR.
Waterways funding is dedicated to the acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of recreational boating facilities.