HARBERT — The Dec. 2 meeting of the Chikaming Township Park Board began on a somber note with a moment of silence in memory of Kirk Schrader, a longtime and highly valued Chikaming Township employee and the late husband of Park Board member Janet Schrader.
Schrader, 55, passed away on Nov. 27.
According to his obituary, he was a fifth generation resident of Lakeside and served his community for over 36 years as the sexton and caretaker of the Chikaming Township cemeteries. Schrader was an avid bird watcher and transporter of endangered birds of prey. He enjoyed working on his 1985 Jeep CJ7 and being his wife’s “first mate” building sand castles in her Sand Pirate business.
Among his most recent accomplishments was spearheading the project to create the popular mountain bike trail at the Chikaming Township Park and Preserve, and under his leadership that project was done entirely by volunteers.
Pat Fisher, president of the Harbor Country Hikers, has suggested it would be fitting to name that trail in his name as a lasting memorial, and that idea will be discussed at a future Park Board meeting.
Also on Dec. 2, Chairperson Deborah Hall-Kayler reported that she and Chikaming Township structural engineer Van Thornton had completed structural inspections of the lake accesses, beaches, parks and preserves under the stewardship of the Park Board.
The reported noted that major concerns continue to be the access stairs at the five lake accesses and two beaches that have been compromised by the current high water level in the lake that has been exacerbated by severe storms and high winds that have led to further erosion damage along the shoreline.
The Harbert Road lake access continues to be of greatest concern because the newest set of stairs have been washed away leading to its continued closure.
Hall-Kayler reported that she had a proposal from the Abonmarche engineering firm pertaining to the township’s lakefront beaches and lake accesses that would include: an initial site visit and summary report; a topographic and boundary survey; a preliminary engineering report; joint permit applications; and permit processing.
The cost of that five step initial process would be $17,800, and it was noted that the timeframe to obtain any necessary federal and state permits could take as long as three to six months.
After discussion on the matter it was the consensus of the members to get bids on that work from two other engineering firms.
Treasurer Kathy Sellers expressed some apprehension that such a future project could prove to be too costly for the Park Board’s limited annual budget, and that some strategies on how to allow people access to the lake in the shorter term needed to be discussed.
Member Arthur Anderson concurred, and he noted that currently there were no beach areas left for people to visit and enjoy.
“The situation now is very volatile, and we’re at a loss because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Anderson commented. “If we could have a tied-down aluminum ladder with some sort of safety net that may work, but there may be some liability issues with something like that.”
Members expressed some optimism that federal and state funds may become available in the future to aid Chikaming and other communities along the lake that had been adversely affected by the high water levels and big wave action.
Also on the agenda was the annual election of officers that produced the following results: Chairperson Deborah Hall-Kayler; Vice Chairperson Arthur Anderson; Treasurer Kathy Sellers; and Secretary Shelly Taylor.
All of those votes were unanimous except for the one for chairperson, with Jill Underhill casting the lone dissenting vote.
It was reported that the required 30-day public review period for the Park Board’s recently completed Five Year Plan will end on Dec. 16.
Finally, it was reported that due to the recent unseasonal relatively mild temperatures the lighted ice skating rink at Harbert Community Park was not yet in operation, but it should be up and running in the near future with the onset of below-freezing temperatures.