Why Copeyon Park for splashpad

March 15, 2019

The Ludington City Council on Monday voted unanimously to approve moving forward with the proposed splashpad installation and fishing pier replacement at Copeyon Park, despite concerns by some community members and councilors.

The splashpad and fishing pier would be constructed in Copeyon in 2020, if the city receives a $150,000 Michigan Natural Resources Recreation Passport grant.

The splashpad would be an oval-shaped, 40-by-70-foot, wheelchair-accessible water play area that would be available for free public use during the summer season. The splashpad installation would be financed by $50,000 of the requested grant funds and $180,000 in private donations.

The pier would be a permanent, year-round dock on Pere Marquette Lake that wouldn’t have to be removed from the water during the cold season. The fishing pier would cost an estimated $150,000, which would be paid for by $100,000 of the grant funds and $50,000 from the city’s general fund. The dock construction is in the city’s capital improvement plan scheduled for 2020.

While no one voiced much criticism about the fishing pier during the council meeting Monday, 10 residents did speak on the topic of the splashpad, with some in support of it, and some against its chosen location.

Community Development Director Heather Tykoski said that in order for the grant to help fund both the fishing pier and splashpad, the two projects would have to occur in the same location. Plus, the donations raised for the splashpad will serve as the matching dollars needed to secure the grant.

Councilor Brandy Miller said that getting the grant to help fund both projects is a chance to add two attractions to the city.

“It’s definitely worthwhile of us taking advantage of that opportunity,” Miller said.

Councilors Cheri Rozell and Angela Serna asked several questions about the fittingness of Copeyon for the splashpad, before they too voted to approve the park as its location.

Rozell asked if walking paths to Copeyon are wheelchair accessible, since Second Street leading down to the parking lot is a steep hill and there’s no sidewalk on that street. Tykoski answered that there is a sidewalk that goes from Washington Avenue around Pere Pointe Village to Copeyon that is usable by the public.

Rozell asked if the bathhouse at Copeyon would be sufficient, since there are only two stalls in each of the men’s and women’s restrooms, and splashpad users might want to change out of their swimsuits there.

Tykoski said placing port-a-johns in the park during the summer would be an affordable solution.

Also, the city’s capital improvement plan for 2021 lists building a new bathhouse and fish cleaning station in Copeyon for $450,000 in grant and general funds.

There are approximately 80 public parking spaces at Copeyon. Parking could become congested by splashpad users, vehicles and trailers using the boat launch, and cars from Ludington Yacht Club members when their private parking is full.

It is also difficult to see for vehicles entering and exiting Copeyon using Second Street, especially if cars park near the intersection with Washington Avenue.

Rozell said limited parking and traffic safety for both vehicles and pedestrians are the biggest concerns many residents have about Copeyon, but she added that she thinks police-implemented parking and traffic orders could help fix potential problems.

“I have all the faith in the police department and their decisions that if there is a (traffic) situation, they will come forward and help solve that situation,” Rozell said.

During Rozell’s fall 2018 election campaign for councilor, she had been vocal about her concerns with Copeyon as the splashpad location, and she wanted other locations to be considered. She said that since then she has spoken with Stephanie Reed, who is chairing the splashpad fundraising campaign, and reviewed a “very large list” of alternate sites that had been considered for the splashpad but were deemed unfeasible.

“I’m in agreeance with (Reed) that those areas are not OK for the splashpad,” Rozell said.

Resident Chuck Sobanski presented the council with a petition he said was signed by 51 community members — many or all of whom were Fourth Ward residents — urging the council to consider other locations for the splashpad.

Rozell, who represents the Fourth Ward, said she was surprised by the petition and that she’d only gotten one phone call so far about the splashpad from a constituent. She urged residents to call their councilors more often to discuss issues affecting them.

“This splashpad is affecting not just the Fourth Ward, but every ward in the City of Ludington, (because) people from every ward will be using this,” Rozell added.

Councilor Serna’s questions pertained to ensuring the splashpad and Copeyon are as compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act as possible.

Reed answered that the splashpad would be wheelchair accessible and capable of being activated by a ground button that is stepped or rolled on. There would also be a sidewalk leading from the parking lot.

Serna said she wants Ludington to have a splashpad because it would be a safer option for families with young children to cool off, instead of swimming in the lake where waves and currents can be dangerous. She said she wants the splashpad and pier projects to get as much grant funding as possible.

A concern raised by resident and Planning Commissioner Kaye Holman is how the city will keep goose feces off the splashpad.

The splashpad has been in the planning stages since 2014, and Copeyon was deemed the park best suited for it for the following reasons, according to city officials Monday:

Copeyon is within walking distance of many homes in the Fourth Ward, and within biking distance for many other residents.

Copeyon is an under-used public park, and having the splashpad and fishing pier there could encourage more people — both residents and tourists — to visit it. More people spending time at Copeyon could also help businesses in the Fourth Ward, such as the Fourth Ward Market, to get more customers.

Copeyon already has a public bathhouse.

The splashpad could easily be connected to the city’s tap water lines, and the water could drain into the storm system and lake, rather than having to go through wastewater treatment and incur treatment costs.

Part of the goal for the splashpad is to raise a $25,000 maintenance fund to take care of sanitation and other upkeep.