COVERT — With the use of a new state grant, Covert Township can replace an aging boardwalk at Covert Park Beach and Campground overlooking Lake Michigan.

Township officials announced this week they have secured a $475,000 grant through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Spark program to repair the 600-foot wooden walkway and stairs at the park that passes through critical dunes toward Lake Michigan.

The walkway serves as an access to the beach from the park and will provide visitors with a safe, stable walking surface through the natural dunes, according to township officials.

Improvements will include the addition of safety rails, widening of the boardwalk and installation of benches. Recycled composite material will be used as a base instead of wood, in an effort to minimize maintenance of the bridge and prolong its life.

“This particular boardwalk is located on the north end of the park and has stairs that connect a 600-foot boardwalk over sand dunes,” said Township Supervisor Daywi Cook. “It is a unique natural experience through the dunes that connects Lake Michigan to the park. It is over 20 years old and made of timber. Covert Township did not want to lose this asset.”

Township officials plan to seek bids for the project soon and begin making the improvements this fall.

Unlike other state grant programs, Covert Township will not have to match funds for the Spark grant. The program, created through funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Building Michigan Together Plan, was signed into law in March 2022. It is a $65 million program to help communities that want to create, renovate or redevelop public spaces for residents and visitors – especially communities whose economic opportunities were hardest hit by the pandemic.

Covert Township was one of 21 communities throughout the state that received the first round of funding, which totaled $14.2 million.

Covert Park Beach and Campground, located at 80559 32nd Ave., includes 50 acres of property – along with 1,300 feet of Lake Michigan beach frontage. The seasonal park is open to visitors and campers May 15 through Oct. 15 and has 63 campsites for primitive and RV campers. A pavilion, picnic area and playground are also available to visitors.

In the past several years, township officials have made efforts to rehabilitate the park’s facilities with landscaping, electrical upgrades and a new washroom facility that was completed in 2020.

The north boardwalk is one of two that lead to the beach, Cook said. Township officials said they wish to update the second one in the near future.

“The primary boardwalk to the beach is on the south end with much fewer stairs,” Cook said. “We are planning to submit an application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to replace that aging boardwalk with a universal design that incorporates ramps and overlooks.”