Saugatuck Now Owns Two Large Parcels Of Former Presbyterian Camp
Saugatuck city now owns two significant parcels of property that used to be part of the former Presbyterian Camp, located north along Perryman Street leading to the Oval Beach parking lot entrance.
In a resolution approved by the Saugatuck City Council Monday night, the nonprofit Oval Beach Preservation Society deeded the 20-acre property for public use at no cost to taxpayers.
“This is the gateway to Oval Beach. It’s been the goal of the council for many, many years,” said Oval Beach Preservation Society President Keith Walker, referring to how the property is now part of the Oval Beach and Mt.Baldhead park system.
Walker publicly gave credit to John Woollam and his J.A. Woollam Foundation out of Lincoln, Nebraska for funding the project. “He (philanthropist Woollam) grew up in West Michigan and has fond memories of his time as a youth in the Saugatuck area and wants future generations to enjoy the same,” Walker told The Local Observer.
Council members extended their gratitude.
“Unfortunately it’s not going to get the fanfare of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, but it’s just as important,” said Saugatuck City Council Member Mark Bekken
Years back, the city approved a special land-use and site plan for the Dunegrass Development on the former Presbyterian property, south and adjacent to Oval Beach. That process resulted in litigation that was eventually settled.
The Society, formed in 2013, originally endeavored to save the entire Presbyterian property from development and preserve in its existing natural state.
The group advanced a back-up offer to buy the 130-acre land for $4.5 million, very short of the $10-million asking price eventually paid by the Dunegrass developer in 2104.
“Much of what we sought to remain undeveloped, will remain undeveloped,” said Walker about the 21-luxury home Dunegrass Development.
The developer is also planning on building a marina on Park Street, just south of the Saugatuck Chain Ferry’s west-side landing area, for the private benefit of the residents.
While the 100-foot seawall for the marina has already received the green light by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the marina itself would still need to be approved by Saugatuck city officials.