Remnants from party on ice anger residents

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 3, 2015

 Neighbors on Milner Street and the surrounding roads bordering Lake St. Clair south of 11 Mile Road are angered by the trash left behind by those attending a large bonfire on the ice Feb. 21.

Neighbors on Milner Street and the surrounding roads bordering Lake St. Clair south of 11 Mile Road are angered by the trash left behind by those attending a large bonfire on the ice Feb. 21.

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Police are looking for those responsible for an annual bonfire on the ice of Lake St. Clair that has neighbors complaining about the trash left behind.

St. Clair Shores Police Detective Lt. David Centala said residents living along Lake St. Clair near 11 Mile Road took it upon themselves to clean up after the Feb. 21 party, which left metal scraps, nails, empty beer cans, bottles, liquor bottles and more littering the lake.

“All that stuff ends up in the lake one way or another, or ends up on somebody’s shoreline,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”

Milner Street resident Steve Ermak said he’s lived on the street for three years, but the party apparently has been happening annually for more than a decade.

“We’re more concerned about the trash,” he said.

Police Detective Jamie Brueckman said this year’s bonfire began Feb. 21 and lasted until 3 or 4 a.m. the next morning, with estimates of 100-200 people attending.

“Neighbors started seeing activity of cars and four-wheelers and people with pallets about 11 a.m., (and) it continued throughout the day,” he said. “They knew it was an annual bonfire.”

He said there were reports of at least a dozen trucks on the ice and multiple snowmobiles; the streets near 11 Mile Road were packed with parked cars.

“From the resident feedback, most aren’t upset about the party; they’re upset about the trash left behind and what it could possibly do to the environment and water,” Brueckman said.

Ermak agreed.

“They burned everything from mattresses, couches, giant wood pallets. You should have seen the size of this fire. It was unbelievable,” he said.

He contacted the police, mayor and City Council, asking for help and asking if anything was being done to stop this annual occurrence.

“We don’t want to stop people from having a party ... but at the same time, if you’re going to leave the lake looking like Chernobyl, this is unacceptable,” Ermak said.

Police said anyone with information on the organizers of the party is asked to call the detective bureau at (586) 445-5305. Breuckman said tipsters can remain anonymous.

“We’re just looking to be proactive about it and be able to single out who was actually the one in charge of it, if anybody,” he said. “In the years past, they (residents) seemed to think that the partygoers would come back the next day and clean up the mess, (but) there’s other residents who said they’ve had to clean it up each year.”

He said the department has been called to the party in years past on nuisance complaints, as well.

“We would like to know who’s bringing out the pallets and who’s doing all the plowing,” he said.

Ermak also wondered, however, why nothing’s been done about the mess until this year.

“The Police Department has known about it, (and) the city has known about it,” he said. “After years and years and years, over a decade of leaving trash on the lake, nothing has been done about it.”

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