Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority Reconsiders Idea Of Installing Ice Spars When It Pulls Out Buoys From River
The Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority (KLHA) is backing away from the idea of installing ice spars when it removes its navigational buoy system for the winter months, says KLHA representatives.
The buoys were first placed in the Kalamazoo River during the 2014 summer season as a way to keep boaters away from hazards, particularly shallow areas where boats were at risk of getting grounded.
Buoys run in the river from Coral Gables within the City of Saugatuck all the way up to Schultz Park in the City of the Village of Douglas.
Ice spars would have been used as a way to support the anchors and anchor line once regular buoys are removed for storage or maintenance. They are durable floats design to resist freezing.
“The information we have received is that ice spars are not totally reliable. The U.S. Coast Guard says that ice spars are meant for bodies of water with no current,” KLHA Board Chair Ken Trester told The Local Observer after Tuesday’s board meeting.
“Well, that doesn’t apply to the Kalamazoo Harbor—it is a river with a current,” he added.
“One of the problems is that ice spars may get entrapped in the ice (when water freezes during the winter) and take the whole assembly with it (anchor line system) when ice melts in the spring,” noted Trester, who also serves as a Saugatuck city council member.
He said the authority will continue to store the buoy system as it has in the past by physically removing the anchored buoys from the waterway.
The cities of Saugatuck and Douglas in 2014 funded the system according to how many buoys were within each city’s respective boundaries: $3,190 for the former and $10,000 for the latter.
Local marina owner RJ Peterson has been installing and taking down the buoy system at no cost to the cities.
Peterson said he plans on continuing to do so.
The navigational system is part and parcel of the harbor authority’s plan to tackle the big issue of siltation in the harbor.
The buoys were hailed as a big help by boaters and officials alike when it was first installed last year. But a year later - at the start of the 2015 boating season - there were complaints by some claiming the buoys caused confusion and that they had been placed in different positions than the previous year.
The harbor authority, in turn, said the channel-marking buoy plan met U.S. Coast Guard and International Association of Marine Aids Region B specifications.
It was also indicated the authority did not have the resources to hire an engineer to replicate last year’s buoy chart.