Sand build-up in Pentwater Harbor threatens boating.

May 6, 2022

Sand build-up in Pentwater Harbor threatens boating.

Emergency dredging costing up to $100,000 needed.

PENTWATER — The depth of the entrance to Pentwater Harbor from Lake Michigan is less than 6 feet in some areas, and when offshore winds cause swells that drop by 3 feet or more, many boats risk bottoming out, according to the Protect Pentwater Harbor Citizens Ad Hoc Committee.     

“Emergency dredging is needed this spring if we are to keep our port completely open, and the cost could be as much as $100,000,” said Dave Bluhm, committee chair. “It will take a combined community effort to deal with this. If we don’t, many boats will no longer have access between Lake Michigan and Pentwater Lake.”

“Limited channel access would definitely hurt the Pentwater area — especially Pentwater Township residents who live on either side of the village limits boundary,” states a Protect Pentwater press release. “If the community doesn’t solve the problem it faces this summer, and cannot find a way to deal with it in future years, the result will be a blow to Pentwater’s summertime appeal. The channel/harbor is extremely important to the economic health of our community. It supports sport fishing and boating. It’s the entrance way for many tourists, shoppers and potential residents. A choked-off harbor doesn’t bode well for area property values.

“Increasingly turbulent weather on Lake Michigan churns up sand, and the water surge carries it into the channel. The wave attenuators slow down the surge and the sand drops to the bottom. That’s not a new problem. What’s changed is that the federal government will no longer pay to dredge recreational harbors when necessary,” states the press release.

“Many members of Congress see it as an unnecessary federal taxpayer cost,” added Bluhm. “Fiscal conservatives in Congress pretty much are saying ‘if you’ve got to dredge in your community, find a way to pay for it yourself.’ So we’ve all got to roll up our sleeves and figure out a way to do it.” 

Bluhm said efforts are now underway to identify a company to come in and dredge on an emergency basis, and the cost could be as high as $100,000. But he added that discussions are underway with the US Army Corps. of Engineers to intercept equipment for which it has contracted to dredge nearby commercial ports. The Pentwater community would have to pay the cost to dredge Pentwater Harbor, but hopefully a good deal of the cost to bring a dredger to Pentwater from a more distant location could be avoided. 

The Citizens Committee is planning to ask the Pentwater Village Council and Pentwater Township Board to allocate taxpayer dollars to contract for the needed dredging services to help defray the total cost that needs to be raised. It’s expected that the request will be on the village council’s Monday, May 9, meeting agenda (6 p.m. at Park Place), and on the township board’s Wednesday, May 11, meeting agenda (6 p.m. at  the township office at 500 N. Hancock Street). 

“Everyone who pays taxes to the village is encouraged to attend the meeting on May 9 and express their views to their elected village council members. Everyone who pays township taxes is encouraged to attend the township meeting on May 11 and express their views to their elected township board.” If one cannot attend, they are encouraged to send letters to village and/or township officials. They also can email their views to [email protected] or [email protected]

“Other fundraising will be necessary, and a ‘Protect Pentwater Harbor Campaign Services Fund’ has been set up at the Community Foundation for Oceana County to accept tax deductible donations that would help pay for the emergency dredging.” One can donate online by logging onto the oceanafoundation.org website, selecting “Give,” then “Give Now,” then scrolling down to the “P’s,” and then selecting “Protect Pentwater Harbor Campaign Services Fund.” The committee stresses that donations are tax deductible. 

More information is found at www. protectpentwaterharbor.org, or the Protect Pentwater Harbor page on Facebook.

 

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