BRIDGMAN — Weko Beach is getting to be one popular destination, and the city has been pulling out the stops to get a grip on the traffic.
Consultant Joan Guilfoyle said new traffic lanes and parking rules implemented at Weko Beach and campgrounds are designed to reduce long back-ups and prevent illegal and unsafe parking, particularly during holiday weekends, special events or just great beach weather.
Guilfoyle said park employees have been instructed to be “friendly but firm” in enforcing the new regulations, including the 15-minute parking in front of the park ranger’s station where the drive is now marked one-way-only toward the lake.
The turn-around lane has been lengthened and the drop-off point moved closer to the beach. Additional marked parallel parking spaces were added along the perimeter and designated no-parking spaces clearly marked near the boat ramp and Berrien Bus stop.
Saving parking spaces or cruising around to look for openings is not allowed when the lot is determined by employees to be full, she told the City Council during a recent meeting. Cash drawers are cashed out more frequently and stations rotated regularly to protect the staff from sun and heat overexposure.
Park personnel now communicate via radio with each other and, if needed the police, with updates on the number of parking spots and any potential back-ups or problem situations, she said. Season passes must be attached to the car windshield, not just waved at the attendant. Cars without visible valid passes will be warned, ticketed and, in extreme cases, towed.
To make sure the city gets all the income due to it, Guilfoyle said the number of different types of parking passes was simplified and only two parking spaces per campsite will be issued, eliminating multiple guest passes. Camping passes will not double as beach parking passes.
Finally, Guilfoyle said, the city should consider running a “beach bus” at a nominal fee to make it easier for residents to go to the beach and campers to get to town for supplies.
Guilfoyle said the Weko Beach parking situation has been her top priority but she will return in the fall with a full report covering all park operations including food, camping, parking and beach rules. In the meantime, she encouraged feedback and ideas from the council and residents.
Bridgman charges $10 per day for parking at Weko Beach. Seasonal passes for Bridgman and Lake Township residents are $10 per season and free for age 65 and older; $40 for Berrien County residents; $50 for outside Berrien County, and $60 for motor homes.
In other city news, the council approved a $66,000 project for the sealing and painting of the City Hall parking lot, the striping of all city streets and the sealing and painting of the Weko Beach parking lot. A report by Treasurer Debbie Lambrix illustrated that the expenditure would make only a slight reduction in the percentage of fund balance to 69.55 per cent of fund balance, well above the goal of 40 percent.
A contract for a new heating and air conditioning system for the Weko Beach House was approved with Custom Design Concepts at $35,000. Mayor Hannah Anderson said the city has taken in $31,500 in rentals since assuming management of the facility and expected to see an increase once the city begins promoting the venue.
There also was the first reading of the new Tall Grass and Weed Ordinance that proposes a 6-inch height limit for grass and weeds but includes several exemptions to accommodate the varied landscapes within the city, such as wetlands, woods and dunes plus industrial-use areas.