DOUGLAS, Mich. (WOOD) - Though the state of Michigan plans to dole out more than $20 million to help about 50 communities with emergency dredging, the Saugatuck-Douglas area isn't eligible despite being desperately in need.
Officials told 24 Hour News 8 they were expecting some financial aid to help dredge Kalamazoo Lake.
"We're still grappling with trying to understand the entire rationale for that," said Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere. "We certainly would like to be eligible. We thought we would be eligible."
But Saugatuck-Douglas isn't eligible because, 24 Hour News 8 was told, the dredging needed along Kalamazoo Lake doesn't meet specific criteria for emergency state funding, including the lack of a public marina.
With or without the state funding, the communities have to do something and fast.
"It's an economic issue for us. Communities all up and down Lake Michigan, and the other Great Lakes in Michigan, rely on the tourist trade," LeFevere said.
He said dredging channels on either side of the lake will cost about $2 million.
"In some fashion, everything comes from taxpayers," he said. "As I said before, we're not eligible for the local and federal pots of money. It means that local taxpayers will foot the bill."
With the lake levels at near-record lows, and silt from the Kalamazoo River building up, it could mean a big economic hit for the Saugatuck-Douglas area if something doesn't get done.
"We continue to lose economically-based tourist opportunities," he said. "The other thing that happens is the value of the property deteriorates, as well as being a waterfront property, and you can't put a boat in your property. It makes it less valuable."
Some Michigan lawmakers held a press conference Tuesday calling on Gov. Rick Snyder to provide more emergency dredging funding, including a revolving loan program for private marinas. They also want to create a long-term plan to address the problem.
A Grand Rapids sex offender has been charged with another crime against a young girl.
The Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office have decided not to charge two 19-year-old suspects who led police on a car chase with hate crimes.
A small college in the corner of southwestern Michigan is closed for the day due to a security concern.