Kiss it goodbye.
The Michigan DNR has thrown in the towel on its attempt to purchase the former Dock Property between Eagle Lake and the Juno Chain and create a facility for public use.
“Without support from Ontwa Township, the Department of Natural Resources has decided not to move forward with the acquisition of the Dock parcel on Eagle Lake,” said DNR official Paul Yauk, who has spearheaded the acquisition and development since early spring.
And who can blame the agency? The well-organized lake associations on both bodies of water have fought the DNR vehemently. The DNR said from beginning that it wanted community and local governmental support before it wrote the $600,000 check to 1st Source Bank, who owns the foreclosed property.
It didn’t get that support.
On the surface, this matter may not appear to impact Hoosiers, but it does. The lakes are located a few miles north of Elkhart and have been popular fishing lakes.
More importantly, it exemplifies how difficult and political it has become for state governments to develop public access for all residents.
In this one, many Ontwa government officials – who privately supported the project – buckled and the DNR and sportsmen got bush-wacked.
The deal crumbled this week when the Township Zoning Board of Appeals astonishingly voted 4-3, denying the project was a “park” and therefore didn’t meet township standards for a residential development.
They voted that way despite their own township attorneys and engineers saying that the site met the zoning regulations and was indeed a “park.” Officials led the DNR to believe it had township support and the state could write the check to the bank the next day and take ownership.
Yet, some board members argued there was no playground equipment included in the plan and therefore didn’t qualify as a park. Apparently, without teeter totters and merry-go-rounds, you can’t have a community facility that provides improved boat launching, parking, a community pavilion, restrooms, and a kids’ fishing pond.
Really. I’m not making this stuff up.
Oh, wait, there’s more. Two of the zoning board members who voted against the DNR acquisition reportedly are members of the lake associations that have protested the DNR acquisition from the beginning.
Conflict of interest? You betcha.
The DNR should have appealed the ruling which it could have won easily in court, but got tired of being kicked over a project designed for the good of all Michigan residents. It has other opportunities to develop access sites around the state, so it will take its money elsewhere.
Thanks a lot Ontwa Township.
Of course, lake residents insist they really aren’t opposed to a boat launch, but simply concerned with the inclusion of more people/boats on their lakes. They claim it’s a matter of safety and conservation.
Bull. Why didn’t they offer to work with the DNR instead of fighting them over petty issues?
The Dock property has served as a parking facility for boaters for 50 years and the DNR development would have improved an eyesore. The trailer parking the DNR allotted was less than what was available before the bank took ownership. The project also would have provided the community a safer environment with additional outdoor recreation.
If water safety is a sincere concern, why don’t lake residents address the boat traffic they themselves have created? Many have multiple power boats, Jet Skis, pontoons and sailboats tied their docks. Why not impose a no-wake period in the mornings, as some lakes do?
Because that interferes with their private playground.
If I’m wrong and the lakers have good intentions, they can prove it. Invest the money they reportedly gathered to fight the DNR’s purchase.
They can spend their own cash to improve the existing, dilapidated launch and add a safer parking area for those who still try to use it. Address those traffic concerns that they portrayed in their arguments. Spend their dollars – not the money that state of Michigan and sportsmen were eager to invest.
Bet they won’t. Now that the DNR walked away, those committed dollars likely will disappear. Or, maybe they’ll buy it, invest in residential lots, make money off the deal and stick more docks in the lake for more boats to crowd up THEIR lakes.
Don’t be surprised if that happens.
The DNR certainly isn’t blameless in this travesty. To walk away from such a perfect parcel and beneficial project sets a horrible precedent and sends a message to other well-heeled lake associations that they can hire attorneys and beat down future public access attempts.
Sportsmen and boaters who fund these projects will get the short end of the stick. Again.
Contact Goshen News outdoor writer Louie Stout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiss it goodbye.
AFC South winners seeking momentum for playoffs
Coach Chuck Pagano won't give anybody a break over the next three weeks.
NFL calls replay reversal 'judgment' call
Colts coach Chuck Pagano isn't looking for an apology over Jeff Triplette's latest officiating controversy.
Gov. declares 'Mike Ditka Day,' honors 'Da Coach'
It's Ditka Day in Illinois.
Torre, La Russa, Cox elected to baseball Hall
Retired managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox have been unanimously elected to the baseball Hall of Fame by the expansion era committee.
Durant's 36 points lift Thunder past Pacers 118-94
Oklahoma City insisted there was no extra motivation playing against an Indiana team sporting the NBA's best record.
- Prep Roundup Boys Basketball Bruins suffer road loss The Bethany Christian Bruins dropped a 70-41 decision Saturday night at Prairie Heights. Prairie Heights 70, Bethany Christian 41 BETHANY -- Sol Brenneman 4-16 6-6 14, Tristan Clark 1-5 0-0 3, Ryan Duckworth 2
- Bears, Cowboys get prepped for frigid Monday game Marc Trestman broke out the heaters in practice for the Bears this week. Jason Garrett sent the Cowboys outside on a bitterly cold day in Dallas. Both coaches were preparing for a frigid Monday night game in Chicago, with temperatures likely to be in
Prep Football Area players honored
Prep Football Area players honored Several players from the Goshen News' coverage area were named to the Indiana Associated Press All-State teams released this weekend. In Class 3A, Fairfield sophomore defensive back Mitch DeWitt and Jimtown senior l
- COLLEGE CONNECTIONS: Ex-Panther Brown part of MAC champs GOSHEN -- Coy Brown is going bowling. The NorthWood High School graduate is a sophomore reserve linebacker on the Bowling Green football team that defeated previously unbeaten Northern Illinois, 47-27, to win the Mid-American Conference championship.
Bengals beat Colts 42-28 to stay perfect at home
A disputed call went the Bengals' way — not that they absolutely needed it.
- More Sports Headlines
- AFC South winners seeking momentum for playoffs