Park Twp. homes teeter on Lake Michigan bluffs

Rising Waters

PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Destruction is unfortunately common for neighbors who live along Lake Michigan near Holland.

One Park Township man told News 8 that over the years, he has installed 10 sea walls to keep his home just north of Camp Geneva from falling into Lake Michigan. He said the tenth one may not be enough.

“If the water is higher, it’ll go right through it,” homeowner Bill Gezon said Monday.

He fears the worst is yet to come.

“The lake seems to be moving in this direction,” he said.

Lake levels have been exceptionally high this year and recent storms that have whipped up powerful waves aren’t helping matters. Even with the help of a sea wall, Gezon lost 20 feet of property this year alone. His home is still stable, but he said his neighbor’s is threatened.

“They’ve lost 300 to 400 feet of property that’s fallen into the lake,” Gezon said.

Gezon took News 8 across the fence to his neighbor’s yard to see just how bad the damage is.

“It (the water) took the whole bank and the stairs and the wall has been destroyed twice,” he pointed out.

It’s hard to believe, but other properties look even worse. A family moved out of another neighboring house. Their backyard is gone and the back of the house teeters on a drop to the lake.

“I think it’s is going over the edge and I think the one next to it is going over the edge and the one next to that is going over the edge,” Gezon said.

He said neighbors who live four houses down are so concerned with their safety that they’re moving their home further inland in two weeks.

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SEA WALL PROTECTS HOMES IN NORTON SHORES

One Norton Shores mother of three also built a sea wall to protect her home as Lake Michigan threatened farther north.

“We didn’t really feel at this point we had any choice,” Priscilla Wilcox told News 8.

She said she and three other homeowners on Norton Hills Road put their wallets together to install the sea wall. With her home backing up to the water, she said she had to act fast.

“Our home is fairly close, our neighbors to the north is also very close, so that made it a little more urgent,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said she and her neighbors started the legal process to install the sea wall last November.

While it doesn’t guarantee complete protection, worker Dirk Hoekstra, supervisor at Perrin Marine LLC, said it’s the best option.

“The wall being here creates a barrier for erosion so that the whole slope doesn’t slide into the lake,” Hoekstra explained.

There are other ways to keep your home intact, he said.

“The options are rock and riprap along the beach,” Hoekstra said. “That’ll slow the surf down and stop the erosion somewhat.”

While the unpredictability of the water continues, Wilcox said she is unwavering in her effort to protect her home.

“We are happy that we are hopefully going to be able to keep it safe,” she said.

Wilcox said the sea wall cost her and her neighbors a pretty penny, but she said anything to protect her family is money well spent.

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