1 6 Weko Campground

A view of one of the Weko Beach campgrounds in Bridgman last summer.

BRIDGMAN — The weather seemed to have a bigger impact on Bridgman’s Parks and Recreation Department revenues in 2021 than it did in 2020 – a year when the coronavirus pandemic left its mark on everything.

Parks and Recreation Director Sara Ball presented her annual report to the Bridgman City Council during its Jan 3 regular meeting.

“I think we had another good season, we were healthy,” she said. “Our cash balance in the bank right now is also healthy.”

Revenue comparisons (from 2020 and 2021) as presented to the City Council follow: Campsite Reservations – $207,728 (2020), $241,028 (2021); Daily Parking Passes – $199,140 (2020), $161,270 (2021); Cabin Reservations – $42,700 (2020), $81,310 (2021); Concession Sales – $74,503 (2020), $70,792 (2021); Seasonal Parking Passes – $52,440 (2020), $48,000 (2021); Beach House Rentals – $9,314 (2020), $21,235 (2021); Kayak Rentals – $20,895 (2020), $15,680 (2021); Firewood/Ice – $19,026 (2020), $13,817 (2021); Souvenirs – $4,858 (2020); $7,910 (2021); Seasonal Boat Ramp – $3,110 (2020); $1,240 (2021); Daily Boat Ramp – $1,620 (2020), $570 (2021).

Ball said the weather wasn’t as consistently nice during the summer of 2021 as it had been the previous year, resulting in lower income from parking passes and kayak rentals.

“Also in 2020, in Indiana and Illinois, beaches were closed due to COVID, so people flocked to Michigan,” she said.

Ongoing issues with ice deliveries (especially on Fourth of July weekend) and the late opening of the boat ramp (which opened well into July) also affected revenues negatively.

Up from the previous year were cabin and campsite reservations, souvenir sales (thanks in part to expanded offerings), and rentals of the Weko Beach House.

Ball noted that the next round of campground reservations opened on Jan. 1, 2022, and in just two days projected revenue from camping stood at more that $50,000.

“Our cabins are a hot commodity, they’re already all booked for every single weekend,” she said.

The largest areas of expenditure in 2021 included: Wages and Benefits ($213,926 – down from $259,449 in 2020); Operating Supplies ($46,801); and Utilities ($37,347).

One area where expenses rose significantly was in contractual services (from $27,593 in 2020 to $49,216) due to the major dune retaining wall recently installed at Weko Beach.

In a related matter representatives of Downer’s Grove, Illinois-based Total Parking Solutions presented the council with details of how the city could switch to Weko Beach parking fee kiosks in the summer of 2022.

It was noted that the firm supplied the kiosks in use at New Buffalo’s public beach.

Many options involving types of payment accepted, location and number of kiosks to be installed, and how to deal with issues such as season passes and a full beach lot were discussed and will continue to be worked out.

“We’re just in the beginning stages and we want to introduce you to the idea,” Ball noted.

During his City Manager’s report, Juan Ganum introduced Bridgman High School graduate and third-year Hope College student Parker Coté, who is interested in pursuing city management as a career and recently job shadowed Ganum. The City Council later approved a $200 stipend for his time spent at City Hall.

“It was very interesting, we got right to work,” Coté said.

“I would love to see Parker replace me as Bridgman city manager someday,” Ganum said.

Ganum also gave credit to Julie Strating for coordinating the Dec. 11 Bridgman Holiday Village celebration which went on and was well-attended despite high winds the night before and morning off causing an inflatable igloo where many events were supposed to take place to wrap around a downtown building (and removed in pieces).

Strating said city officials and the community were incredibly supportive in helping to move activities to new sites (including many market vendors who set up inside the Bridgman American Legion Post and an evening concert that took place in the Weko Beach House).

“It could not have been orchestrated without people coming together,” she said.

Also on Jan. 3, the Bridgman City Council:

• Was informed by City Attorney Sara Senica that “We are going to be keeping a close eye in this upcoming legislative session to see if they bring the short-term rental bill back from the dead. Hopefully they won’t.”

• Heard that a series of petitions for revetments along the lakeshore have been rejected by the state, although it was noted that petitioners are staging a legal fight against the decisions.

• OK’d a tax increment financing plan for the Corridor Improvement Authority.

• Re-appointed James Kole to the Board of Review with a term ending Dec. 31, 2022.

• Ganum showed council members and those attending a framed sunset photo donated by Candy Schwadron.

• Minutes from the Dec. 16 Planning Commission meeting included in the City Council packet reported that planners approved a one-year extension for the Casey’s General Store site plan located at 10299 Red Arrow Highway, It was noted that a groundbreaking ceremony is expected in the spring of 2022.

• Also on Dec. 16, the Planning Commission approved the following amendment to the Bridgman Zoning Ordinance following a public hearing: Hotel/Lodging: A building where the primary use is lodging, with or without meals, furnished to transient, temporary, or resident guests for compensation,and containing more than four (4) rooms for sleeping quarters which may or may not have a kitchen or individual cooking components such as a microwave, hotplate, toaster, coffee maker, and/or refrigerator, and which building may or may not also have a restaurant on the premises.

• And planners were informed that the Sunset Landing Apartments building struck by fire a couple of years ago has a building permit for a front vestibule, three out of the nine affected apartments are back up, and the last six units should be available in the next few weeks to rent out.

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