It's an Acme Township dream come true and another jewel in the crown of the Grand Traverse region. This past month the beach, picnic tables and parking lots have been full with families enjoying summer on a newly opened stretch of public beach in northern Michigan — the expanded Bayside Park in Acme. And summer in Northern Michigan is just hitting its stride.
In 2006, an inspired group of local residents envisioned a mile of open shoreline from the Michigan Department of Transportation park at Five Mile Road north to the U.S. 31 and M-72 intersection. Motivated by the opportunity to return this shoreline corridor to open space with expansive beaches, viewscapes, and public access, Acme Township engaged with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy to help.
Working with willing landowners, property has been purchased at fair market value. Many buildings have been removed. Grass has been planted. There are open views of the water. People are swimming, kite boarding, kayaking, and enjoying the park and greater access to East Grand Traverse Bay.
This incredible transformation is taking place thanks to the support of individual and foundation donors, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Acme Township officials and committed volunteers who have helped to make the first two phases of this project possible. So much has been accomplished in just six years.
Capitalizing on this momentum, we are launching Phase 3 of the Acme Shoreline (Bayside Park) Project. This Phase includes:
- Acquisition of the Beach Club motel property plus a vacant 15-foot-wide parcel, and the Schmidt parcel located north of the existing Bayside Park near the intersection of M-72 and U.S. 31.
- Deconstruction of the former Mt. Jack's property and the Sun and Sand Motel.
- Creation of an endowment for perpetual park stewardship.
- Funding for short-term park improvements that will enhance public access and enjoyment of the property.
The total estimated cost for Phase 3 is $1.6 million. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has approved a competitive grant for land acquisition for Phase 3 which will provide 75 percent of the acquisition costs. Private gifts to this campaign will help cover the local match required to acquire the properties, as well as costs associated with deconstruction, the endowment, and short-term park improvements.
The development and improvement of Bayside Park will continue to involve many public and private partners. Planning work is under way. Acme Township recently hired a consultant and is embarking upon a "placemaking" planning and corridor design initiative to determine how to best utilize the entire shoreline corridor to advance and balance preservation and recreational needs with business growth and development goals. Visit the http://www.acmeshores.org web site for more details.
To learn more about how you can get involved with the Bayside Park project call the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy at (231) 929-7911 or Acme Township at (231) 938-1350.
About the Authors: Fran Gingras and Kathleen Guy are co-chairs of the Acme Shoreline Advisory Committee and are both Acme Township residents.
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