HARBERT — After determining that there is no safe way to reach Cherry Beach on foot, the Chikaming Township Park Board agreed during a May 7 special meeting to close access to the lakeshore at the road-end park “until further notice.”
The motion that passed unanimously states that “because of the severe damage to Cherry Beach by erosion, damage to the stairs and the dune, I hereby make a motion to close Cherry Beach access until further notice in the name of public safety.”
Park Board Chairperson Deborah Hall-Kayler said the board’s original goal of opening Cherry Beach by Memorial Day weekend (from its April 27 regular meeting) is not feasible given the poor condition of the dune leading down to the lake (which continues to suffer from erosion).
She said a recent visit to the site showed that the dune “is caving even further.”
Hall-Kayler said the Beach Access Committee’s plan from two weeks ago to establish a zig-zag path from the parking lot to the beach does not appear to be possible.
“The storms we’ve been having the last couple of weeks… continue to erode this side of the dune which is making it very unsafe.”
Although the parking lot area at Cherry Beach will remain open and the Park Board agreed to leave two existing garbage cans in place, no portable restrooms will be installed this summer. It was also noted that there will be no need for Cherry Beach passes or attendants at the site.
Park Board members pointed out that the adjacent Reed Beidler Trust property slated to be acquired by the township in the near future (although there are still some outstanding pledges) is still private property and thus not open to hikers.
While the Townline and Berrien Street beaches are still accessible (with very limited parking), high lake levels and frequent storms have washed away stairways that once provided access to the shoreline at the Pier Street and Harbert Road beaches. Those facilities also are closed until further notice.
Park Board member Janet Schrader noted that she recently witnessed over 40 people and 15 dogs at the Townline beach (although social distancing was being observed).
“I’m concerned that this will go on all summer and it will be a burden on the police,” she added.