Dear Editor: This summer, the members of the Chikaming Township Park Board would like to thank all the families that have made Chikaming Township and Harbor Country their home, or second home or home away from home even if just one short visit. We also want to thank everyone who have generously donated time and money to Chikaming parks and beaches over the past year to make our community a better place to live and visit.
We would like to ask our neighbors to consider ways to make our community even better. Concerned citizens have brought to our attention several issues regarding our most valuable asset and treasure: the beaches of Harbor Country. The issues include dogs on our public beaches, fires on public beaches and public health and safety.
Dogs on public beaches: Chikaming Township has an ordinance prohibiting dogs on public beaches. To those dog owners who want to bring their dog to the beach, we understand that your dog is well behaved and you always pick up after your dog, but the problem is other people’s dogs. Other people’s dogs can be a nuisance and dangerous and litter the beach. Also, some people are afraid of dogs or afraid that their children playing on the beach may be attacked by a strange dog. Dogs and small children do not interact well together. To ensure that all families have a safe and enjoyable time at the beach, please do not bring your dog to the public beach. Warren Dunes State Park has a dog friendly beach and Chikaming Township has a dog park at Harbert Community Park that you are invited to use.
Fires on public beaches: Fires are not permitted on public beaches by ordinance, and persons who start fires will be cited by the police who patrol the beach. Abandoned fires are dangerous, and the remains of extinguished fires messy and unattractive. The Park Board was told by a concerned citizen that some vacation rentals are providing their renters with bundles of firewood and telling them that if they want a beach fire, not to start one on a public beach which is patrolled, but to cross over to a private beach to fire up. We do not know the truth of the concern, but if true, this is trespassing. If anyone is doing this, please cease and desist this practice.
Public health and safety: The Governor of Michigan has issued an Executive Order regarding social distancing and the wearing of face masks in crowded public areas. Whether you agree or disagree with the merits of the order, or the constitutionality of the order, or the dangers posed by spread of COVID-19, the order must be complied with until changed or rescinded. No citizen has a right to pick or choose what laws, ordinances, or government orders they will comply with. As a courtesy to other people who are afraid of contracting COVID-19 from casual contact from a stranger, please observe social distancing, as best you can, in crowded public spaces such as our beaches, and cover your mouth and nose when in close proximity to strangers. If you do not have a mask, try using your T-shirt or “cough pocket” (the crease in your arm when you bend your elbow) when you walk closely past a stranger. They may thank you and we thank you for your consideration and public spirit.
Lake Michigan’s beaches are a fun and enjoyable place for everyone to visit, but only as fun and enjoyable as our community choses to make them. Please help us make them welcoming to all.
Chikaming Township Park Board
Arthur H. Anderson-Vice Chair
Joseph Reed –Member