Township considers gate to limit access to Holland pier

Ottawa County

PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Dyrell Daniels came to Holland for some family beach time before the cold weather sets in.

“Took a little trip over for our anniversary to enjoy some of the fall colors and the scenery out here,” Daniels said as he and his wife watched wind surfers spin through the air and hit the waves of Lake Michigan near the pier at Holland State Park.

The beauty and power of the lake never ceases to impress.

But that beauty and power comes with some risks. So, Park Township officials are considering limiting access to the pier with a gate.

“I understand why they would think about putting up gates. It’s kind of a safety issue to protect people from themselves,” Daniels said.

Under the plan, the gate would be located at the end of the walkway that leads to the pier and would close from December through March.

Park officials would be able to close it temporarily in the spring and summer months when conditions are dangerous

There are plenty of examples of that danger.

Just hours into 2020, two teens from the Flint area just wanted to see the big lake. Both were swept off the pier.

One teen was able to make it out of the water. But his 16-year-old friend’s body wasn’t found until March.

“Once you get swept off that pier and into these rocks and get put out sea and taken in the rip current, you’re out in the middle of the lake,” said Park Township Manager Howard Fink.

The township is working with a consortium that includes the township fire department, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corp of Engineers to improve safety at Holland State Park.

Limiting access to the pier when conditions aren’t safe is part of that effort.

The DNR still needs to sign off on the plan.

Fink hopes it will be installed in time for the 2021 beach season. Other details are still being worked out.

One concern of installing a gate is fall fishing off the pier.

Fink says he’s working with local groups including the Holland Steelheaders to provide access.

“We do not want to adversely effect the fisherman. At the same time, we do need to recognize their needs to be some safety improvements here,” Fink said. “Ultimately what we’re trying to do is save lives.”

If you have question on the gate, you can contact the township.

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