Water levels lead to yacht club, road closure

May 3, 2019

The Ludington Yacht Club building closed Wednesday due to the high water level of Pere Marquette Lake, and it is expected to remain closed for about a week while the gravel road connecting the clubhouse to the Copeyon Park area is raised higher.

The road was approximately 3 to 6 inches underwater on Wednesday and Thursday, depending on the fluctuations of the lake level, according to Ludington Yacht Club Commodore Tim Tibbits.

The high water causes the biggest problems for the road and the exterior components of the clubhouse’s plumbing system, which were both below the lake level, Tibbits told the Daily News Thursday.

The club turned off its plumbing system until a tube can be installed to raise the plumbing’s outdoor components about 3 feet above the lake level.

“The good news is the docks are all floating docks, so we don’t have an issue with the boats that are in. The clubhouse is fine — it’s raised enough that that’s not a problem for us,” Tibbits said. “It’s the plumbing that’s the challenge and the egress in and out of the club.”

The club has hired Hallack Contracting to handle the plumbing issue, add gravel and rocks to build up the road to the clubhouse and raise the lake wall higher around the property, Tibbits said.

The road will be built higher, but shouldn’t become any wider. Once the road is raised, cars should be able to get to the clubhouse and use the parking spaces again.

“They’re making good progress,” Tibbits said, adding that he’s optimistic the clubhouse will be able to open by Thursday. “I’m hoping by next week this time we’ll be navigable out there.”

In the meantime, the club has canceled the events it had planned, Tibbits said, adding that he thinks this is the first time in the club’s 60-plus-year history that it’s had to close during a season.

The club also raised the wall around its property by about 2 feet two years ago, so the lake level is an estimated 20 to 24 inches higher than what it was back then, according to Tibbits.

“In years past, the sea wall has always sufficed. We raised it two years ago, and now we’re doing it again,” he said.

“The nature of the lake level is such that I can’t predict. I’m not a scientist — I wish I could know what it’s going to be in five years,” Tibbits added. “But the docks are set, the clubhouse is fine and we’ll deal with what Mother Nature has to throw at us.”

Gary Ferguson, a board member of the yacht club, said they have been monitoring the rain and rising lake level for the past two or three weeks.

“We’re pretty well shut down for the time being,” Ferguson added. “We’re hoping by next week we can open the doors. It’s all about water levels.”


Higher water levels are affecting many lakes and rivers connected to the Great Lakes.

Longbridge Road in Pentwater closed Wednesday evening at the Monroe Road intersection due to high water both to protect vehicles and the structural integrity of the road, said Oceana County Road Commission Managing Director Mark Timmer.

Longbridge Road crosses Pentwater River as it empties into Pentwater Lake and then flows into Lake Michigan. The water level was up to the center line of the road Wednesday evening, Timmer said, and it fluctuates with the rain accumulation.

It is unknown when the road will open again to traffic, he said. The road foundation is completely saturated and unstable, so driving on it would break the asphalt, Timmer explained.

“We know it’s a concern for residents, but we ask that they (be) patient,” he said. “We really do have their best interests at heart. We want to protect the road. We don’t want to see it damaged to the point where it needs to be replaced.”

He said once the water level recedes and the road’s foundation drains and dries, the commission will decide when to open the route to traffic.

Due to the road closure, Pentwater Public School has made arrangements for a changed busing route for the approximately 10 students who live in the affected area.

The students’ families are dropping them off at the store parking lot of Pentwater Convenience Center, and the school buses are picking them up from there, said Toni Glover, an administrative assistant who coordinates busing for the school.

“It’s kind of inconvenient, but what are you going to do?” Glover said. “That’s what we’re doing. We have a plan, and we’re coordinating with all our families.”

She said the school is grateful for the permission of the store owner, Herm Knoll.

Lake Michigan’s water level is 7 to 8 inches higher than what it was a month ago, and 9 inches higher than the average for this time last year, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District.

Lake Michigan is projected to rise another 4 inches during the next 30 days, the engineers reported on April 26.