City Council OKs Beyond the Pier plan

·3 min read

Jul. 21—The city's Beyond the Pier Master Plan was approved Monday night by Grand Haven's City Council, but not without criticism.

The council was asked to vote on two agenda items regarding the plan during the meeting — first to approve the Master Plan, and then to approve a request for proposals.

Beyond the Pier aims to connect downtown Grand Haven to the city's waterfront, and for the development of the vacant Chinook Pier property.

Councilman Mike Fritz was very vocal regarding his lack of support for the plan due primarily to a lack of parking.

"You took parking spots away from the depot, you are cutting 38 spaces out of the program, there is not enough parking to support anything you are doing down there," he said. "It is really going to change everything down there, and it's not good. I will not support this."

Landscape and urban designer Maleah Rakestraw, who was there to answer questions Monday, said parking was a big topic of conversation. She noted they had looked at several ways to increase parking, one of which includes private-public partnerships for the use of nearby lots.

However, Rakestraw said they wanted to focus on the waterfront with the master plan.

"I want to remind everyone, this is a schematic plan," she told the council members. "When you guys actually do dive on the physical design of these things, it could be different, and parking could be something that is a major consideration."

Councilman Ryan Cummins disagreed with Fritz when it came to parking and the master plan.

"We have a boardwalk that people walk miles on, we have a downtown that is walkable for multiple blocks," Cummins said. "On Saturday ... our downtown was very busy, our waterfront was busy. A block up, two blocks up, four or five blocks up, the county lot by the courthouse had four or five cars in it. ... It can be used for parking."

Parking studies have shown that Grand Haven has enough parking, Cummins said, but people would have to walk to get to their destination. He said some studies show there is economic benefit when people walk and discover new storefronts.

"We have a walkable waterfront," he added. "We want people to explore it and check it out. I think this vision allows for that."

Although Fritz did not vote in support of the master plan, he did vote yes to allow the city to solicit developer proposals for it.

"Now that the plan has already been adopted, I have to put my other hat on and say, 'Now it's time to move along with this,'" Fritz said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what the proposals are. And also when it comes time for any kind of contract, I want to make sure we have a better contract than what we had last time — where we ended up spending over a million dollars of the taxpayers' money to have the (Chinook Pier) buildings torn down."

To view the Beyond the Pier Master Plan, visit: .

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