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March 18, 2019 2:29 pm

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Placement Of Navagational Buoys In Kalamazoo Lake Done "Willy-Nilly"

     “Controversy has been brewing” over the placement of the navigational buoys this spring, conceded Saugatuck City Council Member Ken Trester, also serving as chair to the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority Board, during Monday night’s Saugatuck City Council meeting. 

       Bob Sapita, the former chair of the authority, has chimed in on the issue.

       Sapita - via a memo sent to the authority members as well as city officials – made some serious accusations about the placement of the buoys this year in the Kalamazoo River channel.

       During the council meeting, Trester shared those comments with his fellow city leaders.

       Sapita’s memo included statements such as this year’s buoy installation range from “they (the buoys) are being placed willy-nilly” to “you don’t need those hazard buoys—they are too confusing” to “you get what you pay for—was there a detailed job specification for the installation?” 

       In response, Saugatuck officials as well as local marina owner RJ Peterson - who has installed the buoy system at no costs to the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas – said they do not perceive the issue to be a big problem, at least not an insurmountable problem. 

       “The harbor is marked for safe navigation,” said Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier. He further shared with council that Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority Vice Chair Patrick Burroughs had navigated his boat using the buoys.

       “He (Burroughs) encountered no problems,” said Harrier. 

       Explaining part of the problem for the authority, Trester said to councilmembers, “We don’t have the resources to hire an engineer to replicate last year’s (buoy) chart.” 

       Sapita explained the rationale and history of that nautical chart in his May 26 memo, saying, in part:

       “In conjunction with the development of the Phase 1 Dredging Plan, the authority set in motion the Buoy Sub-Committee to develop a channel-marking buoyage plan that would meet with USCG’s (U.S. Coast Guard) and IALA’s (International Association of Marine Aids) Region B specifications. 

       “Brent Birkholz took the lead in this effort that after many interactions culminated in a plan that was ultimately approved by the USC.   The approval letter from the USCG stipulated that the waters in question were not ‘maintained’ by the USCG and would be classified as Private Aids Navigation.

       This meant it would be a (Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority) action item to get the data to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for inclusion in future nautical chart publications.”

Placement Of Navagational Buoys In Kalamazoo Lake Done “Willy-Nilly”

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