Oval Beach To Remain Open While Parking Lot Reconstructed During April
Despite the fact that Saugatuck’s Oval Beach parking lot will be getting completely reconstructed and the addition of a turnaround at its entrance during April, the beach itself as well as the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area will remain open to the public, Saugatuck officials announced Monday.
The Saugatuck City Council approved the close to $330,000 project on Monday, accepting the lowest bid of three contractors: Michigan Paving & Materials Company of Grand Rapids.
“This is huge. People are going to be pleased,” said Saugatuck City Council Member Mark Bekken. “I don’t think we have done anything to this parking lot in 50 years; we’ve done maintenance work, periodically,” he added of the current state of the parking lot which is marred by many potholes.
While the parking lot itself will be off-limits to the general public and vehicular traffic, “the park will be open (during the reconstruction work),” said Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier.
Work is expected to start at the beginning of April and the contract with Michigan Paving comes with a 20-workday schedule.
“I could see them (contractor Michigan Paving) finish before those 20 work days,” Jonathan Moxey of Fleis & VandenBrink, the engineering firm hired by the city to oversee the project, told council.
This means the project will be done way before Memorial Day, the start of the tourist season for the community, asserted Moxey and city officials.
The contractor may well have accommodated vehicular traffic during reconstruction, dividing one section for parking and one for work in progress, but that would have increased the cost $25,000 due to all the moving of equipment back and forth, said city officials.
They also have discussed the future possibility of expanding the parking lot at the west end to provide more parking spaces than the current 500 (the reconstruction project will only add about five to 10 new spaces). However, the expansion would also require more bathroom facilities to accommodate the increase of people, said Moxey.
A bigger parking area would address the never-ending problem of a lack of parking spots for beachgoers during peak periods.
The overflow sometimes ends up at Douglas Beach Park, also impacting the City of Douglas with traffic backups and the congestion caused by cars parked along residential streets.
The beach improvement is a complete reconstruction of the existing vehicular parking area, with the old asphalt to be used as the base for new pavement.
“The footprint of the asphalt will remain much the same, not adding a lot,” said Moxey.
The entrance structure, signs and landscaping in the island area will remain.
However, five small trees at the west side of the entrance area will be cut down to make way for the construction of the turnaround, to be built with a large enough turning radius for a medium-size RV, said Moxey.
The addition of the turnaround at the entrance of the beach promises to lessen public safety concerns as there have been many issues of cars trying to leave the beach area immediately after they enter.
The way the parking area is currently designed does not provide an adequate space for vehicles to turn around in, namely vehicles that need to immediately turn back from entrance for whatever reason, according to Saugatuck city officials.