GRAND BEACH – With an Aug. 15 deadline fast approaching, the creation of the Grand Beach Nature Preserve took a giant step toward its goal with a July 20 auction benefit.

“I thought the evening was a huge success! I have never run a fundraiser before so I was hoping to raise about $25,000 but I believe we at least doubled that amount,” said Sheila McGinnis who headed the committee that organized the evening of silent and live auction of items donated by local businesses and residents.

There will be a special meeting of the Grand Beach Village Council on Wednesday, Aug. 7, for the council to consider a resolution to accept a $2.5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to purchase the 42 acres that include the driving range, pond and wooded area with plant species rare to the area. The village must commit to the 25 percent matching fund requirement of $800,000.

“We’re getting closer and hopefully the checks are still coming in,” said Village Clerk Mary Robertson. Checks can be made payable to the Village of Grand Beach and are being accepted at the Village Clerk’s Office, 48200 Perkins Blvd.

In addition to the funds raised by the auction, The Pokagon Fund donated $58,000, Grand Beach Development (the current owners) donated 10 percent of the land value and residents have donated more than $200,000.

“This will be our only chance to preserve an area that is rich in wildlife and vegetation that we, as residents, have enjoyed for generations. We can’t always count on the use of our beaches but we can ensure that future generations get to enjoy this beautiful acreage and driving range,” wrote Village President Debbie Lindley in a letter to residents.

Lindley noted that the 42 acres have been accessed by villagers for many years through an agreement with Grand Beach Land Development and is the only open area left that isn’t being broken up into lots for more building sites.

“This land is so dear to our wonderful village. It was once the second nine to our golf course. Who hasn’t walked it, laughed in it and enjoyed the nature and serenity of this unique piece of property and what is a golf course without a driving range,” McGinnis said.

The Grand Beach Social Club sponsored the evening with the help of Presidents Marty and Anne McFadden. The evening began with a presentation on the history of the Golfmore Hotel by Tom Suhs which drew a sizable crowd with most staying for the auction.

Auction committee members included: Terry Smith, Ian McGinnis, Ellen Harmening, Barb Rooney, Matt Rooney, Lisa Doody, Tim Doody, Timmy Doody, Catherine Kelly, Dennis Grether, Deb Lindley, Carly Lindley, Jackson Lindley, Colleen Healy, Lizzie Cusick, Nora Cusick, Vicki McHugh, Marty McFadden, Anne McFadden, Peg Stewart, Jack Stewart, Blake O’Halloran, Nancy Buckely, Amy Slater and Sean Bowen.

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