HARBERT — Members of the Chikaming Township Board voted unanimously during their May 13 meeting to deny a request from the Park Board to allow dogs on the township’s Cherry Beach and Harbert Road road-end lake access on a temporary basis through Sept. 30.
During a recent meeting the members of the Park Board voted 6-1 to make the request to allow dog owners and their leashed pets lakefront access from 6 to 10 a.m. and 7 to 10 p.m.
Township Supervisor David Bunte noted that since the wording of township Ordinance 126 states that Chikaming prohibits the presence of dogs on their beaches and lake accesses, board members had no flexibility or course of action short of having the ordinance amended.
During the discussion trustee Rich Sullivan said that although he was a dog lover he didn’t think it was in the best interest of the township to allow dogs on the public beaches.
“I’d like to see a poll done on how the community feels about this issue,” Sullivan said. “I would never take a dog on a public beach.”
Former Park Board members Janet Schrader and Dan Buckenmeyer concurred, commenting, among other things, that it was a safety and liability issue.
It was also noted that Chikaming Township has a Dog Park at Harbert Community Park, and that there are places nearby, such as Warren Dunes State Park, that have areas dedicated to dogs.
In other beach-related items, Bunte announced that he had received notification that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund had approved the appraisal of the Reed Beidler Trust property that borders Cherry Beach.
“Things continue to move forward with the Cherry Beach Project (which successfully raised funds to purchase the parcel), and hopefully the closing will be taking place by mid-July,” he said. “We’re not anticipating any problems, and all the donation pledges have been honored.”
There was a unanimous vote to approve an eight-week summer internship with a concentration on lakefront resiliency for Katherine Almquist. Her work will be funded by a grant at no cost to the township.
There was also unanimous approval to spend $250 to purchase a plaque to recognize all the volunteer workers and donors who made the recent installation of the Harbert Road beach steps possible.
Also on the May 13 agenda, Bunte reported that the Union Pier/Red Arrow Highway Project is moving ahead with more asphalt work being done on the highway as well as the non-motorized path.
“Among other things, the lighting will be connected and flower beds will be planted,” he said. “Benches and waste receptacles should be in place in a couple weeks.
“We’re applying for a Deputy Grant that will fund the purchase of banners to put up on the new street lights,” he continued. “It’s pretty exciting, and we’ll be having a ribbon-cutting and celebration when it’s all done sometime this summer.”
In other business, there was a discussion on what direction waste management in the township should take in the future.
It was noted that while Chikaming stipulates that garbage and recycling receptacles be left out no longer than 24 hours, but in many cases this was being ignored.
Trustee Liz Rettig commented that the township had many weekend people, seasonal visitors and rental properties, and an effort needed to be made to make sure they were aware of the rules.
Bunte said that leaving garbage and recyclables out for long periods of time was a safety and health issue.
“We don’t want to fine violators, but we need to look for some solutions,” he said. “There are lots of challenges, and this is just the start of the conversation. We’ll do research and get public feedback to try to determine what our needs are as a community.”
One suggestion was that the township considers contracting with a single waste disposal and recycling provider, and part of that contract would include language that all waste and recyclables receptacles had to be put back in place within 24 hours.
There was unanimous consent on a motion to approve the $66,300 cost of upgrading the roads at Riverside Cemetery. That project is made possible by an $80,000 surplus in the budget for road work, and it is anticipated that a similar project will take place at Lakeside Cemetery next year.
Finally, in a sign that another summer season is on the horizon, there was unanimous support to approve a motion to issue a Fireworks Permit to Woodlawn Beach for a display on July 3.