‘Give everybody more access’: Changes looming for Reeds Lake

Kent County

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Changes could be coming to Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids in time for summer.

Plans were presented to the city planning commission Tuesday night, which could bring pontoon rentals, a gas dock and a large paddle wheel style dinner boat to the lake.

The community has mixed reactions to the idea presented in a recorded virtual meeting.

The plan comes jointly from Gregory Gilmore, the owner of Rose’s, a popular restaurant on the lake, and the president of Tommy’s boat rental, Mason Koffman.

“Our goal is to expand the experience for residents of East Grand Rapids, not just those who live on the lake,” Gilmore said. “And give everybody more access to the lake and create a full service marina. We’re trying to craft something that would work great for the entire city and I think it would be great for the residents on the lake as well.”

Reeds Lake presents an interesting predicament for the planning commission. On one hand its a relatively untapped natural resource, which lends itself to recreational use. On the other, at only 265 acres, the already busy summer lake might be too small to accommodate such ambitious plans.

The lake currently boasts one marina and one public boat launch for motorized watercraft. 

That would all change with this plan and residents are concerned about the environmental impact that additional vehicles would pose to the small lake.

“So we’ve spent tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars on runoff filtration and we’re going to allow a gas station. Pretty close to a protected wetland that swans and eagles that call that their home,” homeowner Amy Mackay said. “That disturbs me greatly.”

Gilmore wants the city to amend his Planned Unit Development to allow for a partnership with Tommy’s boat rentals. The amendment would make way for the new marina, 12 pontoon boats available for rent and a large dinner cruise boat that could also serve adult beverages.

“Add in the option to mix alcohol with pontoon boats and minimally trained pontoon drivers, and it will be a perfect formula that will result in at worst, accidents between paddle boarders, kayakers and owned boats,” one concerned homeowner said. “And at best rentals will add 12 group boats that most certainly will be used for partying with music and maybe less than attentive operator.”

Despite the concerns raised from the public, the group says their fears can be put to rest, using their successes in other lakes across the country as a barometer.

“We make sure to take all necessary precautions, go through all the phases and permitting processes to make sure that it’s appropriate,” Koffman said.

“That’s really what we’re after — is just creating a better experience, which I believe is the master plan of East Grand Rapids is allow more residents and nonresidents access to the lake and create a better experience,” Gilmore added.

The planning commission was unable to make any decision on the amendment. They say they will present a recommendation to the city commission and ultimately, the decision is theirs. The requested changes can be accepted in part or whole.

News 8 reached out to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, which patrols Reeds Lake. They said they would have no problem enforcing more boaters in the lake and handling a gas dock.

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