The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking to move forward with developing a conceptual design for a new boating access site on Union Lake at the former Aggressive Marine property in Commerce Township, without the adjacent parcel the state has been trying to acquire since the end of 2010.
Back in December 2010, then-DNR Director Rebecca Humphries gave the green light for the DNR to acquire a 2.41-acre piece of property that, with the adjacent Aggressive Marine property — which was previously purchased by the DNR in 2008 — would be used to develop a new Union Lake boating access site at Union Lake and Wise roads in Commerce. However, the 2.41-acre parcel still has yet to be purchased by the DNR due to legal entanglements.
“It doesn’t look like the acquisition will take place anytime soon,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “There are issues with the land. They don’t involve us. We would like to get (the land), but right now we can’t. The issues may clear up down the road, and then we would try to acquire it again.”
The DNR had hoped to develop this new boating access site because the current one on Union Lake 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 location where the department wants to develop a new access site.
“Our goal was to build a new site that would accommodate the same number of parking spots as the current boat launch – which is why we wanted the property adjacent to (the former) Aggressive Marine (site),” Olson said. “However, right now that’s not feasible. We are looking at only having 22 to 24 (vehicle/trailer parking) spots, pending the final site design.”
The current site has 35 parking spots.
When the DNR first announced intentions to develop a new Union Lake boat launch, riparians were concerned about the number of parking spots that would be developed. Some reportedly believe there’s already enough boat traffic on Union Lake, which prompted some Union Lake property owners to request a study of the lake’s boat carrying capacity.
However, according to Dale Mahrle, the president of the Union Lake Shores Association, a non-profit corporation representing over 1,000 riparian and back lot property owners who have access to the waters of Union Lake, the DNR didn’t give the association a “yes” or “no” answer on the request.
“I am disappointed that the DNR’s response to our request only proposed discussions with the DNR and they didn’t agree to a formal lake carrying capacity study,” he said.
Nevertheless, Mahrle said he’s pleased with the DNR’s plans to move forward with developing the former Aggressive Marine property by itself.
“I think that’s great given it will probably reduce the number of parking spots from 35 at the old site to 22 at the new site,” he said. “Additionally, the undeveloped Aggressive Marine property has been vacant for over two years now and is really an eyesore for the community. A developed launch site would certainly be a desirable asset to the community as opposed to its current undeveloped state.”
Olson said the DNR hopes to get the boat launch design conceptualized soon, with the launch opening next summer.
Meanwhile, the old launch will stay in operation until the new access site is complete.
“Once we have the new launch finished, we will attempt to sell that land as we will no longer need it,” Olson said.