Cass Lake to have limited boat launch access this season

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 11, 2015


KEEGO HARBOR — Those who use the public access at Dodge No. 4 State Park in Waterford to launch boats on Cass Lake will face a snag in the line as the park undergoes two construction projects to fix beach erosion and to enlarge parking spaces.

The projects, which are broken into two phases, will begin around April 27 and continue through mid-October; however, the closure dates have not been finalized.

Starting around April 27, the park’s main entrance will be closed to resurface the main roads and address beach erosion. During that time, the surface drive that runs around the headquarters will be open and will be the only access point for the boat launch.

Rowdy Perry, park supervisor, said that the park has had a beach erosion problem for about two years and both phases of the construction are necessary.

“The beach is about 7 feet wide now where it used to be close to 20  to 30 feet wide,” Perry said.

The first phase will consist of rebuilding sidewalks, replenishing sand, and constructing a recreation pier and wave dampeners to counter the effects of wave erosion. Phase one is expected to be finished in mid-June, Perry said.

Starting around July 20, the boat launch will be closed through Labor Day. The second phase will include increasing the size of parking spaces allotted, upgrading stormwater management and making the area compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Though the boat launch will remain closed during that time, Perry said the beach area will be open.

“Right now, most of the spaces are 20-foot spaces for the boat launch, and with the size of the vehicles to safely tow, they’re looking at 44-foot parking spaces to better accommodate routing and better traffic flow,” Perry said.

From Labor Day through mid-October, the boat launch will only be open on the weekends and only for launching and retrieving boats. Parking will not be available, and Perry said there is no alternative for parking during that time.

That portion of the project was approved in 2012 but was tabled when the funds were needed for emergency dredging. The two projects, combined with engineering and construction, cost over $2.55  million, Perry said. The beach erosion project is being paid for with park improvement funds, and the boat launch reconstruction is being paid for with funds from the Michigan State Waterways Commission.

When the boat launch is closed, Keego Harbor Mayor Rob Kalman said, residents can still access the Keego Harbor boat launch located along Dollar Lake — which flows into Cass Lake. However, there is no parking near the launch area, he said.

“It is not a launch for the general public. It’s only for Keego Harbor residents. A key is needed to access the locked launch area, and it’s $35 for the season,” Kalman said in an email.

Residents can get a key from City Hall for $35.

Because the Keego Harbor boat launch is not large, Kalman said residents find it easier to use Dodge Park’s boat launch and leave their trailers there. But because the launch will be closed for most of the boating season, Kalman anticipated that “some people will have a bit more work to do to get on Cass Lake this summer.”

Residents in West Bloomfield Township and the tri-cities can use a public launch site along Orchard Lake Road to access Orchard Lake. However, because it reaches capacity early, Kalman and Perry recommend arriving early. The city of Pontiac has a public boat launch on Sylvan Lake as well.

“In talking with our primary marine patrol officer, Cass Lake tends to be busiest from Memorial Day through the mid part of July,” Kalman said. “The majority of Keego residents that live along Cass Lake have boats docked behind their homes. We may see a decrease in the number of waverunners and speedboats after July 20, but I suspect that not too many people launch pontoon boats from Dodge Park.”