Keego Harbor Mayor Rob Kalman, right, is pictured with a member of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. Kalman recently announced a grant that will help pay for safety on Cass Lake.

Keego Harbor Mayor Rob Kalman, right, is pictured with a member of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. Kalman recently announced a grant that will help pay for safety on Cass Lake.

Photo provided by Rob Kalman

Grants set to aid Keego with bridge repair and extra patrols on Cass Lake

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 20, 2023


KEEGO HARBOR — Keego Harbor Mayor Rob Kalman recently announced that the city has been awarded two grants.

He credited Michigan State Rep. Noah Arbit with helping to secure $500,000 for a bridge repair and Sen. Rosemary Bayer with assisting the city in getting $100,000 to help with safety on Cass Lake.

The engineering firm of Hubbell, Roth & Clark Inc., based in Bloomfield Hills, advised the city that a bridge needs to be repaired or financing should be secured for a new one.

Kalman shared the details.

“On Willow Beach Street there is a bridge that cars drive over, and there’s a small canal that connects Cass Lake and Dollar Lake,” he said. “Of course, Cass Lake is the largest lake in Oakland County — it’s the deepest and likely the busiest, and Dollar Lake is a smaller lake close to Cass Lake and Orchard Lake Road. … Hubbel, Roth & Clark gave us an assessment that you’ll be able to extend the life of the bridge 10 to 15 years with a half-million dollars of infrastructure improvement and reconstruction.”

Kalman said he is happy that Arbit “came through with this.”

He read from a release that was shared about the grant money for the bridge.

“The Willow Beach Street bridge has been in need of significant repair for some time, and the grant secured by Rep. Arbit will enable us to finally initiate the necessary reconstruction to ensure the safety of our residents,” he said.

Kalman expects that the grant money Keego has been awarded will be received in the next year.

The $100,000 that was awarded is expected to be used for lake safety. Keego has already contracted with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division to assist the Keego Harbor Police Department with patrols on Cass Lake, and the grant money that has been awarded can help the city continue to provide that additional security measure.

“Keego Harbor sits along, arguably, the most used part of the lake on the sand bar, and as a city, our population doubles on weekends when people are on the lake, especially on the holidays,” Kalman said. “There’s been some difficult behavior from people over the years — they haven’t been too respectful. Our Keego Harbor Police Department patrols … I’m a proponent of regional cooperation, and the sheriff has the whole Marine Division, so we entered into a contract with the Sheriff’s Office. They patrol the area closest to Keego Harbor.”

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard shared the advantage of getting the county involved in assisting with patrols.

“I think it’s hugely beneficial on a number of levels,” Bouchard said. “It increases the safety and the enjoyability of that lake, because if you have a lot of people that are out doing reckless behavior on the lake and doing things that put people at risk, some people avoid going out. Some people don’t like to be around it, and, obviously, the worst implication is that somebody can get hurt. So, we’ve seen a lot of positive feedback whenever we can increase patrols.”

Kalman said that having Oakland County help patrol Cass Lake has been helping out quite a bit.

He added that it is not a “ticket-generating thing.”

“Most of what you’re seeing is education,” Kalman said. “Most of the time if a sheriff’s deputy is pulling somebody over on the lake, they’re talking to them about, ‘Do you have your life jacket? Do you have a fire extinguisher?’ They’re educating them about what needs to happen if they’re doing improper navigation. … They’re really there to prevent a tragedy and to keep people respectful.”

Bouchard shared a similar sentiment.

“The primary purpose of the patrol is to inform and to create a safe environment,” he said. “It’s not ticket-driven by any stretch. Now, if they have to write a ticket to get compliance, that’s something that they would do, but the vast majority of their encounters, even when there’s a violation, are warnings.”

Robert Alonzi is an officer with the Keego Harbor Police Department.

He said that there are a multitude of issues on Cass Lake, ranging from reckless boating to drunken boaters and trespassing.

“The Sheriff’s Department has been very vigilant, and they’ve actually quelled a lot of the disturbances on the lake,” Alonzi said. “Their (primary) focus is the lake — ours is the shoreline. … They’re right on top of it.”

Alonzi also credited Oakland County with helping with some of the congestion on the lake.

From Kalman’s perspective, the culture on Cass Lake has changed as a result of Oakland County assisting with patrols.

“We’re saying it’s no longer OK to act irresponsibly,” he said. “I’ve got residents stopping me as I’m walking the streets, and they’re calling me and saying, ‘Thank you.’ … We’re averting tragedy right now, in many cases.”

Alonzi shared a message for those who navigate the lake.

“Just exercise a modicum of common sense,” he said. “Don’t go out there and get hammered on the lake. Respect other people’s property rights.”

Alonzi wanted to remind people that if they choose to drink, they should designate a sober adult pilot to navigate boats. People should keep the volume from stereos down, not trespass onto private property to access the lake, and call the West Bloomfield Police Department at (248) 975-9200 for non-emergency services.

He stated that the goal is to ensure that “everyone has an enjoyable lake experience and makes it home safe.”

For Kalman, the grants represent an additional positive.

“We had some good collaboration with the sheriff of the county, and then with the state,” he said. “It’s an example of government working well together at different levels — the city, the county, the state.”