Safety Issues Surrounding Motorists & Pedestrians On Lake Street Discussed
Lake Street is a “beautiful road,” but some Saugatuck city officials and residents alike also consider it “an accident waiting to happen.”
The challenges of the road were discussed at Mondays city council meeting.
The road is heavily used during the summer season (by motorists, pedestrians and cyclists going to and from Oval Beach, Ox-Bow, BeachWay Resort & Hotel, etc.), but it’s narrow, curvy and speeding motorists are very common on some sections.
One idea being bandied about is the construction of a pathway or sidewalk along the road, which seems to be an insurmountable problem: there are houses that encroach on public right-of-ways and the public right-of-way is not clearly defined by the city’s mapping systems.
To exacerbate difficulties, Saugatuck city officials report that while exploring the state of Michigan grants for a possible pathway on Park Street, regulatory agencies, namely the Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, have faced off during discussions, each jockeying to protect their regulatory interest.
“This past week was a zoo and I am afraid it’s going to get worse,” local resident Jane Underwood, who lives on Perryman Street, which leads to the beach, told the council about safety concerns. “People are driving 40, 50 miles per hour. We need a path for bicycles, joggers, walkers and people who walk their dog.”
In an effort to ameliorate some of the concerns, Allegan County Sheriff’s Department Detective Brett Ensfield, who is in charge of the four deputies dedicated to serving the City of Saugatuck, reported that he and his officers are taking a “data-driven enforcement” approach to address speeding motorists as well as other police matters.
The deputies have erected a northbound speed monitoring sign near Saugatuck Yacht Club that collects data, namely the speed of cars and the time of the day cars are traveling, and in this way, augment enforcement accordingly. There are also plans to install another temporary monitoring device for southbound traffic.
But Ensfield said he and his officers—whether it’s Park Street or other enforcement issues—are “not out to get people; we want to modify behavior.”
Asked about the idea of a sidewalk, Saugatuck City Zoning Administrator Cindy Osman told The Local Observer, “It will be difficult to do it without cutting into someone’s private property or even their house.”
Lake Street resident Ruth Johnson said it was a “beautiful road,” but “walking through there was horrible. I think we really, really need to do something before something bad happens.”
City officials said they will continue to study solutions for Park Street.