BENJAMIN J. GOHS, NEWS EDITOR
The fourth and final Boyne on the Water visioning session was held on Tuesday Nov. 17 at St. Matthew Church in Boyne City.
Faculty Member and Specialist Wayne Beyea of the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction opened the presentation which is the culmination of many hours of public informational and opinion-gathering meetings as well as conceptual plan creation regarding several of Boyne City’s waterfront parks.
“It’s been really a tremendous process and this is more of a celebration than anything else … and really an important milestone step in going forward with this project,” Beyea said. “While it includes the design phase of this … it really is an opportunity to move forward.”
He added, “Oftentimes when you see that first vision, that first design, folks are, ‘Wow, this is what we’re going to be doing?’ and there’s oftentimes a lot of positive and negative reaction. So, this has been an opportunity for some really important feedback loops.”
“I think it’s been a really cool process,” said Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann, who headed up the local steering committee working on the matter… “And, I’m just really happy with the way it’s turned out.”
Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Michigan Municipal League have been major financial supporters of the Boyne on the Water planning project.
“The application, in essence, talked about a disconnected waterfront where we wanted to be able to create that unique, memorable and welcoming experience both for residence and visitors alike,” Beyea said. “So, a pretty daunting task when we look at all the different properties along the waterfront and their uniqueness both for user groups, their location. That was the charge that we had here in the beginning.”
Beyea said planners had to take hundreds of comments and build visions from them.
“Oftentimes were asked … what’s all this gonna cost?” he said. “And, our process here has really been to try to build consensus and none of this is final design… It’s really to build consensus to take it to the next step.”
Beyea said Key themes included:
• A walkable connection to all the properties
• Connecting the waterfront to the main street businesses and downtown
• Preserving and expanding public beach activities
• Maintaining the views along the waterfront
Warren Rauhe, an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Michigan State University, returned to Boyne City to present an aggregation of the feedback collected throughout the Boyne on the Water meetings.
Since late spring, city officials, community members and design experts have been in discussions on a major planning process—dubbed “Boyne on the Water”—that involves Peninsula Park, Veterans Park, Sunset Park and the 475 North Lake St. property, which were green-lighted for PlacePlans project help back in January.
Rauhe said the parks comprise nearly a mile of waterfront area.
He said the four major components are the waterfront parks, the downtown businesses, Front and Lake Streets which can be more pedestrian oriented to enhance the waterfront, and the fourth component is a walkway and boardwalks wherever possible along the waterfront which can be connected to Lake and Front Streets in a loop.
“Eventually, when it’s all said and done, this needs to be connected into any kind of regional or area-wide system,” Rauhe said. “So, this is not just a standalone type area.”
Rauhe cautioned that the visions presented are “very preliminary” and not to be construed as final plans.
Peninsula Beach Park major components:
Large open green area with views
Playground, basketball court, sitting areas
Sunset Park major components:
Very little development along that area keeps open views to the lake
Walkway continues across the bridge and connects with Veterans Park
New proposed marina
Small sitting area near restroom building
Fireplace at the sitting area
Small platform for a single musician
Pedestrian bridge next to the current bridge over the Boyne River
Fishing areas on the river
Look at parking for downtown and the parks to ensure harmony
Chamber building needs improvement
Veterans Park major components:
Existing playground hopefully to be saved
In pavilion picnic area, some type of event stage
Splash pad area next to playground
Veterans Memorial expansion
475 North Lake St. open space major components:
Keep center of the property open
Limited beach area
Small parking lot on each end of the property
Pickle ball courts
Ice rink and area for seasonal warming area for skaters
Luke Forrest of the Michigan Municipal League then discussed implementation of the visions presented.
The draft plan was sent to the steering committee members but has not yet been released to the general public.
“We’re suggesting in our report here that you actually empower this steering committee to lead the way and have them really continue to meet,” Forest said.
Forrest said a project of this scope could be undertaken in pieces to help with costs.
Forrest suggested the steering committee coordinate with the necessary entities and to update the public as progress is made.
He also suggested using events to test new things like erecting a temporary basketball hoop during an even to see if people would use it, or to change parking during an even to see if it works better than an existing parking scheme.
Forrest said a plan needs to be made for how funds will be raised to pay for the many improvements.