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Saugatuck endorses unified K-zoo River plan

Saugatuck endorses unified K-zoo River plan

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By Jim Hayden

Correspondent

Saugatuck City Council Monday endorsed a plan to address issues along the Kalamazoo River with a special eye on the community’s harbor.

The Lower Kalamazoo River Greenway Plan was prepared by the Outdoor Discovery Center beginning in 2018 with input from more than 300 people and dozens of community meetings.

The city’s endorsement of the 70-page document does not require any financial investment from the city but will help the Center, at 4214 56th St., Holland, in Allegan County, get grants and other support to implement the plan.

“The plan was designed to bring together the diverse communities scattered along the Kalamazoo, Rabbit and Gun Rivers to coordinate planning efforts and work together as a unified county on addressing ecological, educational and developmental issues related to the river,” City Manager Kirk Harrier wrote in a memo to council members.

The plan will be used as a guide for future parks and recreation projects and as a starting point for engineering studies and cost analysis for future projects, he wrote.

A copy of the plan is available on the Center’s website Outdoordiscovery.org.

“Some of the highest quality habitat and rarest species can be found within a couple mile stretch of the mouth of the Kalamazoo River,” the report says about Saugatuck and Douglas, noting the many parks and preserves in the area.

“Protecting and preserving these areas around Saugatuck should be one of the highest conservation priorities along the greenway. However, efforts to make sure that these areas are not overused or abused, should strike a balance between visitation and preservation. Future development on private property should be done in an environmentally friendly manner that is consistent with local zoning and the Tri-Community Master Plan,” the report states.

The report also highlights the need for harbor management, a point emphasized by Mayor Ken Trester at Monday’s meeting.

A permanent funding for dredging the harbor and location the spoils that result needs to be arranged, according to the report. “Significant efforts” need to be made to address upstream sedimentation that settles in the harbor,” it says.

“We’ll try to figure out where non-point sedimentation is coming from,” Dan Callam, Greenway manager, told council.

In other business Monday, council:

  • Approved an agreement with Dianna McGrew for assessing services from 2019 to 2022. The total contract amount is $96,849.21.
  • Authorized the Saugatuck Township Fire District to negotiate with Tom Harrington and/or John Sharar, doing business as Retro Boat Rentals, about the south half portion of Lucy Street dockage. Retro Boat Rentals wants to use the street end for its business, but it is leased to the fire department for its firefighting boat.