Improvements for Block 58 becoming reality
Written by Muskegon Chronicle   
Monday, 27 December 2004 10:11

Waterfront Sports Park, commonly known as Block 58, will receive some long-talked-about and once controversial improvements this summer.

Changes for the park have been discussed for years, and the current list of improvements first appeared on a 2002 "wish list" drawn up by North Muskegon Mayor Chris Witham.

One item hotly debated was a launch ramp for large boats. Despite lobbying by sports and fishing interests, the council decided not to construct it after neighbors protested.

But a lake access ramp will be built to allow the launch of small boats at the 5-acre park on Muskegon Lake between First and Second streets.

Harry Wierenga, landscape architect with Fleis and Vandenbrink Engineers, said the improvements also will ease access for ice fishermen. Wierenga is the architect on the project.

Other changes include paving the parking lot and driveway, increasing the size of a soccer field, building a picnic shelter, adding a fishing and viewing pier and improving handicapped access to the entire site via a boardwalk.

"It will be nice and accessible to everyone," Wierenga said.

Bids are expected to be sought in the spring and work will begin in the summer, Wierenga said at a recent city council meeting. The fishing and viewing pier for pedestrians is nearly complete. The pier, which is not to be used by boaters for docking purposes, will include a fixed portion and a floating portion.

The pier provides a view of nearby historic lumber-era pilings from a sawmill that became visible when Muskegon Lake water levels receded over the past few years, Wierenga said.

A $65,000 grant from the Michigan Coastal Management Program paid for the fishing and viewing pier and the boardwalk, Wierenga said. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund awarded North Muskegon a grant of $238,000 for general improvements such as the playground, shelter and portable toilet enclosure.

Witham called the plans a "real improvement."

"It's an area that a lot of citizens use and a lot more people are interested in," Witham said. "People are just interested in parks."

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