Although the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has started cleaning up the old Aggressive Marine site by removing the old marina’s underwater piers and taking out pavement, the DNR’s quest to acquire the adjacent “Dunville property” on the western shores of Union Lake remains stalled.
“We were hoping that all would’ve been wrapped up several months ago. But it’s been a back and forth situation,” said Kristen Bennett, the DNR’s regional field planner for southeast Michigan. “We’re currently working with the bank and real estate to purchase the property.”
The 2.41-acre property, along with the adjacent Aggressive Marine property — which was purchased by the DNR back in 2008 — would be used to develop a new public boating access site at Union Lake and Wise roads in Commerce Township. The DNR hopes to develop this new access site because the current Union Lake access site poses traffic and safety concerns.
Union Lake Road separates the DNR’s existing boat launch ramp and its parking area, which creates traffic safety challenges and congestion problems. The current access site is located near Union Lake and Cooley Lake roads, north of the former Aggressive Marine property.
The Dunville property includes 12.68 acres — 2.41 acres of upland and 10.27 acres of submerged land — and 400 feet of frontage on Union Lake. The property includes paved parking areas, public utilities, and a 3,521-square-foot brick and wood frame building shell that was formerly a restaurant, which the DNR plans to remove.
Yet, until the Dunville property purchase is finalized, the DNR can’t begin construction of the new boating access site as there currently is not enough property at the Aggressive Marine site to house both a boat launch and 32 parking spots.
“We talked about starting the launch (at that site) with reduced parking. But that would result in a situation with both launches open until the new one is complete, and we didn’t want to increase the number of parking spots available,” Bennett said. “Because the big concern from the community was the parking and number of boats on the lake. And 32 spots was what they were comfortable with because the lake is already so congested. So we decided to hold off on changing anything until we have an adequate amount of space to open the other.”
The number of parking spaces at a new access site was also the main concern of Union Lake property owners at a public hearing held by state officials at the Commerce Township Township Hall last December. However, it’s not a lack of parking spaces that worries the property owners so much as too many.
Many property owners at the public hearing wanted confirmation that 32 — and only 32 — parking spaces would be developed at the new access site. They believe there is already enough boat traffic on Union Lake.
The DNR had previously offered $656,000 for the Dunville property.
The money to develop this and other state-sponsored boating access sites comes from the Michigan State Waterways Fund, not the state’s general fund. The Waterways Fund revenue is derived from boat registrations, marine fuel taxes, and user fees.
By law, the fund is restricted to uses related to land acquisition and developing and maintaining waterway facilities and operations.