It's still summer, and both the calendar and local weather are cooperating in promoting that fact. Yet, about a week or so ago, the Ludington DPW looked at that same calendar and saw that Labor Day was in the past, and so started getting ready for winter. The first step in doing that was putting up the parking lot snow fence at Stearns Park, you can see the orange fence in the background of the picture below taken yesterday. You will also notice that on this beautiful summer day, the west-side parking lot was full, leading to a lot of cars parking along the snow fence:
This leads to the first of two safety issues. You see, the snow fence covers half of the parking spaces, all of those on the east side of Stearns Outer Drive, so since there was generally enough room to park and be out of the roadway, many did just that. Sometimes that led to a very small aperture for vehicles on the street. In the picture above, the space between the long-bodied truck in the far background and the silver car parked across was less than 10 feet. Those hauling a trailer down this venue had little room for error in getting through that point.
Further down the street widens so even more cars choose to park on the east side, with the picture above you can see that the fence is fully blocking the normal east side parking spaces and the extent of the parking. You may also notice that some sand has been caught on both sides of the fence already-- not a lot-- from a dry, windy day last week.
Back in 2019 I offered a suggestion to address these issues at this time of the year-- and other parts of the year because we not only have windy days in September, but also other summer months:
"I will always advocate for an emergency fencing system that would be easily deployable on the east side of Stearn's Drive on permanent metal posts set on the parking curb, just before the grassy area, to fend off unseasonably high winds of June, July and August. But for such a system to work, the DPW and/or city hall need to be constantly attuned to high wind conditions moving into the area. These also wouldn't block half of the parking spaces at Stearn's; believe it or not on these warm September days, parking is about as scarce as it is during most of the summer.
As early as late April, the beach fencing could be removed and stay that way until early October if we adopted a reactive system where this fencing could be put up in as little time as an hour by a devoted team, freeing them up for the few hours it would take to perhaps put a line or two of temporary fencing on the beach arrayed so as to best keep the sand from blowing any further. If they need extra manpower we always have the LFD and other volunteers that could surely help."
Those metal posts don't even need to be permanently fixed, they can go up at the same time the fence needs to go up. If properly constructed, the sand would only be on the west side of it on the very edge of the parking spaces, easy to remove and get the sand back to the beach with heavy equipment. No barrels or cheesy fences needed, save those for the beach in October through April, and no sacrifice of half of the parking spaces on nice September weekends.
You will notice at the south end of the snow-fenced outer drive that the left turn lane is blockaded off by barrels and fence. We have noticed that this is the same area that the City has made more dangerous by putting in angle parking making left turns blind and difficult.
The City DPW and police department has not adjusted the rest of the outer drive, meaning that the only traffic lane still available only allows for going straight, or turning right into a small parking lot. Traffic passing through the park were choosing not to follow the traffic controls; the two cars on the outer drive in the picture above both stopped, signaled for left turns and turned up Ludington Avenue, rather than the only two options allowed by the road paint.
Immediately after the picture was taken, the front car had to come to an emergency stop to miss the car they didn't see (due to angle parked trucks and SUVs, you can see it in this picture) going west down Ludington Avenue. Who would have been at fault, if not the municipality who has made the T-intersection so very dangerous? The smarter snow fence mentioned earlier would preserve the turn lane, the smarter road configuration for the last block on Ludington Avenue that we've advocated for earlier would add parking, add pedestrian facilities, add to intersection safety, while removing a redundant traffic lane or two.
It's a shame that we have to sacrifice safety, parking, and aesthetic quality at Stearns Park just because our City leaders can't optimize either by adjusting their expectations.
I've never understood what the big rush is to get the fence up. Its almost like once the tourist are gone that the residents of Ludington don't matter as much so lets throw up this fence to make their lives less enjoyable.
So right again Dave. Like I've said previously, that snow fence back in the day stayed down and wasn't put up until much later, like late October as memory serves me. Locals could enjoy the Stearns beach for much longer, without all the summer traffic, and without views being blocked for 9 months again. Concession stands also stayed open much later, as well as picnic areas being enjoyed so locals could have some quiet time after summer crowds. Like X says, an emergency fencing system replacing this old archaic system, is highly desired and much more in line with what is required in this day and age. Throw out the old system, it's way past time now.
I will bet if it where a pay to park area would be fully open until New years Day.
walls don't work. or so we're told.
Thanks FS. I think X has a come up with a reasonable solution to the problem but the City pays little attention to the public. Instead of finding a solution for the drifting sand at Stearns Park so that the citizens as well as visitors can use the beach and park past Labor day, they spend 2 million dollars on that ridiculous bowling alley shaped Legacy Park. How many locals will be using that. I checked the calendar and found that the big wind storm that hit the west side of Michigan in 2010 and covered the park with sand was during the Labor Day weekend, so, that would make X's suggestion even more relevant in that we never know when a wind storm may come thru so having a fence system that can be quickly deployed is a very good idea. Below are some photos of the multi day wind storm that filled Stearns Park with sand. The reason the fence goes up asap.
Those are great pics.Willy, however, it should be noted that was a freak storm that hit that year, highly unlikely again in September. And I still prefer X's solution with an emergency type of fencing that could be fastly used in such cases, and not be permanent for 9 months of the year.
Thanks Aquaman. It would be nice and a great invention if someone could design an inexpensive fence that could be installed at a moments notice but I haven't seen any indication that has been accomplished. Even though wind storms like the 2010 storm are not frequent it was bad enough that it convinced City officials to put the snow fence up immediately after the last holiday of the summer. I don't see them changing their minds any time soon. I'm sure clearing the park of the sand wasn't cheap.