Dog Beach Sign

BRIDGMAN — Until further notice, the City of Bridgman will allow dogs on a leash to access the Warren Dunes State Park dog beach along a path from the end of its Weko Beach boardwalk to the state park boundary. 

The 50-foot path will be clearly defined by orange snow fences.  Dogs and their paws will not be allowed on any other part of Weko Beach.

The city’s temporary solution came during the Monday, April 15, council meeting following City Manager Juan Ganum’s report that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources decided for now to maintain the boundaries of its dog beach up to Weko Beach rather than move the boundary further south as had been previously believed. Separately, the city will review its ordinances to make sure they are in agreement on the issue that no paws are allowed on the city’s sand anywhere else.

Ganum did not rule out the possibility of the city’s boardwalk being extended to the state park’s boundary following a question by Council Member Jan Trapani, who expressed concerns about the appearance of the snow fences.  As a courtesy, the city has allowed dog owners access to the state park from the city’s boardwalk, where leashed dogs are allowed, along a well-worn path across Weko Beach sand.

Council Member Rick Fuller clarified that there will still be a joint announcement with the DNR concerning the boundaries of the state’s dog beach.

In other Weko Beach business, the City Council voted to increase the parking fines at the beach, with Fuller voting “no” in the absence of Police Chief Daniel Unruh and Park Director Joan Guilfoyle. The approved increases were higher than recommended by the two city officials after Mayor Vince Rose said he felt the recommended increases were not steep enough to discourage violators.

Revised fines for the coming season reflecting Rose’s concern were approved on a motion from Council Member Stacy Stine. Minimum violations of the beach pass will be $50, up from the current $15 and the recommended $30; boat ramp pass $75, up from current $15 and recommended $50, and handicap parking spaces $150, up from current $50 and recommended $100.

City Attorney Sara Senica said the tickets include details on how much and where to pay the fines and the potential penalties for late or no payment which can include court appearances and credit history notations. She said the city first follows up with registered letters to those who fail to pay by the deadline.

On a question from the audience later in the meeting, it was clarified that no boat ramp pass is needed to carry canoes or kayaks across the sand but they are required if the boater uses the boat ramp to launch these craft.

The meeting began with a presentation by Jennifer Brueck of Bridgman Cares, a nonprofit organization she helped found to help Bridgman School District students in need through informal channels. In its three-year history, the group has established food pantries at all three schools supplied through a food drive with donations and Harding’s Market and expanded to included items such as gym shoes, swimsuits and backpacks.

She said the avenues of help, which is given with input from counselors but no questions asked, have expanded to include help with athletic fees, graduation gowns, technical fees, college housing deposits, holiday box meals, Blessings in a Backpack and $500 scholarships.

The organization will hold a Euchre Party Fundraiser in memory of her late husband Steven R. Brueck on Saturday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Weko Beach House. She said knowledge of euchre is not required.

Ganum said a recent meeting on the formation of a fire authority with Lake Township, Baroda Township and the Village of Baroda, facilitated by Bridgman School Superintendent Shane Peters, was very positive and constructive. He said enhanced services are as much the driving force behind the initiative as money savings and efficiency and said he thinks the concept is worth exploring.

Fuller raised the issue of the selective enforcement of the Public Participation Rules and Procedures, which include a three-minute time limit and are printed on the back of council meeting agendas. He distributed a draft of a revised policy and said he wanted to avoid any possibility of infringing on anyone’s freedom of speech.

Senica said the current policy was adapted from the recommendations of an expert in municipal government.

The council concurred with Fuller’s recommendation that overflow audience members not be allowed to stand behind the council table due to privacy and safety concerns.

Also on April 15, the City Council:

• Rescheduled its budget discussion to the June 3 regular meeting and Ganum’s evaluation to May 20;

• Appointed Steve Parsons and Tom Woerdehoff to the Planning Commission for terms expiring in 2022; Rose noted that there is still one opening on the Planning Commission and two openings on the Zoning Board of Appeals and urged residents to apply;

• Approved an amendment to its agreement with Medic 1 that removes Hartford and Watervliet as members with the understanding there will be further clarification on the terms of the entire agreement.

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