HARBERT — Less than a year after a group of volunteers rebuilt the Cherry Beach stairs in Chikaming Township, they’re at it again just up the lakeshore.

A project to restore the lower portion of the Harbor Road Beach stairs was kick-started on April 15 as concrete footings were poured and lumber was prepared for hammer time.

Joe Sipek, one of the project’s organizers, said holes 42 inches into the clay were excavated for the concrete footings (poured into 12-inch diameter PVC tubes).

Once the foundation has been inspected (a step expected to take place April 20) he said work would begin on new stairs and decks down to the beach.

Sipek expects the project to be completed before Memorial Day.

Similar to the Cherry Beach stairway, the bottom portion of the Harbert Road structure was washed away in 2019 by a combination of storms and historically high lake levels.

But the water is slowly receding in 2021, leaving a much larger expanse of sand at the foot of the Cherry Beach stairs.

The distance to Lake Michigan is shorter at the bottom of the bluff beyond Harbert Road, but there’s still plenty of room to walk without getting blocked by the sand-filled geotubes, downed trees and boulder revetments scattered along the shore.

“It’s been a collaborative effort with a lot of volunteers (about 10 on April 15) … We’ve got a lot of good people here,” said Enrico Heirman.

During the April 5 Chikaming Township Park Board meeting Chairman Arthur Anderson thanked Sipek, Dan Menitoff and Jocelyn VerLee for their work on the Harbert stairs.

Sipek reported that the stairs will use a cable system to prevent them from sliding down the dune, with the last three steps buried under the sand to deal with future erosion. With the price of lumber as much as 40 percent more expensive than last year, the estimated project cost is $9,000, with $7,300 of that for lumber.

The Park Board approved the expenditure of up to $10,000 for the project.

It was noted that volunteers are needed to help with the Harbert Road stairs construction and for food/beverage support.

Volunteers are asked to contact: (construction) jverlee@chikamingtownship.org; (food and beverage) Scurry@chikamingtownship.org.

Also during the Park Board meeting it was noted that Cherry Beach passes are being printed and will be distributed. Township officials are asking the public to drop by a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the passes (which are are for residents and property owners).

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