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Bayside Park’s Million Dollar Makeover

Bayside Park CollageThe next major step in a years-long effort to beautify Acme’s shoreline and create more public recreational opportunities is set to take place this summer.

Acme Township officials have unanimously approved plans for a three-phase, million-dollar makeover of Acme’s Bayside Park on US-31, with the first phase of improvements to begin this year. The project covers Bayside Park’s original wooded boundaries and beach area next to the Shell gas station at US-31 and M-72, as well as an expanded open space to the south created by the township’s acquisition and demolition of several hotel parcels in 2010.

“We got the land through a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant,” says Acme Township Supervisor Jay Zollinger. “But we’ve not had a lot of money to improve the park other than a few picnic tables. We need to make it look a lot better. We want to improve the shoreline, and to offer more park amenities.”

The Bayside Park Improvement Plan calls for creating a park accessible to “people of all abilities,” with upgrades including expanded parking, non-motorized trail connections, universal beach access, new bathroom and playground facilities, and terrain improvements.

Phase one of the project – with construction scheduled for summer/fall – includes a new 24” high curved limestone wall (similar to that at Clinch Park) along the main beach that will offer seating and a transition between green and beach space. Extra sand will be brought in to fill out the beach area, and a universally accessible sidewalk will be constructed leading from the parking lot to the beach. Irrigation and landscaping improvements are also planned.

Improvements total just under $67,000, with funds already set aside and approved for use this year by township officials.

Phase two of the project – its most ambitious stage – is set for 2017-18. That phase calls for roughly $600,000 in improvements, including: the replacement of the existing parking lot and addition of a second connected lot behind Shell; the southward expansion of the beach wall and sand infill; the installation of universally accessible playground equipment and ADA-compliant matting leading to a transfer seat at the water’s edge; new benches, lighting, sun screens and a foot-washing station; and an extended sidewalk system throughout the park.

“Everything they’re proposing is much-needed,” says Acme Business Association President Rob Evina. “The (existing) play equipment is ready for the scrapyard. The whole park needs to be brought up to date. This project has been at the top of the list of community priorities for a long time.”

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy has committed $200,000 to funding phase two if Acme Township will provide $100,000, a match township officials have approved. The group hopes the remaining $300,000 will come from a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, which the township plans to apply for this year. If approved, construction could begin either next year or spring 2018.

The township’s application could be strengthened thanks to the support of organizations like the Grand Traverse County Planning Commission, which unanimously backed the project Tuesday. Township Zoning Administrator Shawn Winter is also meeting with groups like the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay to secure their support. Project plans specifically call for a balance of “developed and natural” elements in the park, preserving its natural vegetation wherever possible and introducing additional native plant species.

Based on the timing and success of the first two phases, a future $335,000 third phase could see the addition of new bathrooms on the park’s south side, a 40’ picnic pavilion, a pick-up/drop-off area and remodeling of the existing bath house. Township officials will discuss funding sources and a timeline for that phase in 2017.

The park improvements will provide a key piece of the puzzle for major planning efforts like the Acme Shoreline Project, the Bayshore Corridor Strategy and a proposed Traverse City-Charlevoix TART Trail network. But residents also hope the Bayside Park improvements will finally give them their own “anchor” beach to use in the summer – and attract more tourists to the community.

“Right now everyone bypasses Acme…to go to the State Park, or the Old Mission Peninsula beaches, or Elk Rapids,” says Evina. “If we can get people regularly using this beach, it could keep some of those visitors out here. It could hopefully capture some of those dollars and strengthen the businesses on this side of town.”

Source: The Ticker
Original Article: Bayside Park’s Million Dollar Makeover

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