BERRIEN SPRINGS — Berrien Springs Village Council members are currently working to hammer out an agreement with the Berrien Springs Boat Club that would give local residents more access to Lake Chapin.
The Berrien Springs Boat Club leases land owned by American Electric Power at the end of South Mechanic Street in the village. Village officials have been meeting with boat club members to see if the two parties can reach an agreement.
“We approached the boat club so we could have public access that we didn’t have for non-motorized boats,” Village Attorney Frank DeFrancesco said.
Boat club members have proposed a number of items they’d like to see in an agreement, he said. Those points include having the village’s insurance list the boat club and AEP as additional insured parties, and having the village reimburse them for the $250 a year discount they’ll lose on their own insurance by allowing public access.
The boat club also wants the village to install pre-cast cement steps to the lake, reimburse them for $500 in additional signage and pay them a $750 annual fee. Boat club members suggested that the village could maintain the boat club lawn and pick up debris in lieu of paying the annual fee.
DeFrancesco asked council members to look over the correspondence from the boat club ahead of the council’s next meeting on June 24.
Council Trustee Jesse Hibler said that he and other public properties and ordinance committee members agreed with most of the items. He said they’d like to see a couple more items added such as having the boat club gate off the motor boat access launch, so as to avoid confusion.
Hibler also suggested the need for security cameras not only around the boat club property but also at the nearby Grove Park. He and other council members noted that the vandalism problem at the Grove Park is getting worse, not better.
“We need to have some sort of cameras so we know who’s entering and leaving the park,” Hibler said. “I’m afraid the problems will transfer to the boat club if we sign this agreement.”
Audience member Zach Fedoruk suggested that just having signs announcing security cameras could serve as a deterrence.
Also, Village President Milt Richter said that plans for the village’s first annual Fourth of July Ice Cream Social are pretty much set. Most events and activities will take place at the History Center at Courthouse Square and the nearby Berrien Springs Library starting at 11 a.m.
Events scheduled include blacksmithing, metalworking and horseshoe demonstrations, live music including bands, children’s games, an 1800s style meal in the Log Cabin and politicians giving speeches. State Rep. Brad Paquette will be among those giving speeches.
Richter reported that the Starks family has donated the money to cover most of the expenses and that the village will also be paying for the ice cream and other incidental costs.
Besides the ice cream social, the village will celebrate the Fourth of July from morning through the evening, with a pancake breakfast in the morning, the ice cream social in the midday, the parade at 4 p.m. and fireworks at dusk.
Village Trustee Barry Gravitt said he hopes doing the ice cream social will be a first step to adding more community events. “The whole idea is to bring people to the village, we need to keep adding, adding, adding,” Richter agreed.