Thursday, February 2, 2012

Saugatuck Township mum in Dugout Road debate

Dugout Road in Saugatuck Township. The Kalamazoo River is on the left.

The entrance to Dugout Road.
The Saugatuck Township board remained mum on its plans for Dugout Road, though some residents made their views clear at Wednesday night’s meeting.

“This is a big issue,” said Dayle Harrison, a member of township planning commission.

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Property owners adjoining the road have asked the Allegan County Road Commission to vacate the road.

A hearing on the topic is 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Allegan County Area Technical & Education Center, 2891 116th Ave. in Allegan. Saugatuck Township will get the first offer to acquire the land after the hearing and decision by the road commission.

The dangerous unpaved road hugs the north side of the Kalamazoo River and dead-ends at private property. Road maintenance trucks and fire trucks cannot safely navigate the stretch the township calls “perilous.”

For a look at the road, visit

Area residents have asked the township to acquire the road and keep it open as a pedestrian path.

Russ Harris told the board Wednesday he’d like to see the road turned into a walking trail. He also suggested the township get other groups, such as the Nature Conservancy, involved to make it a linear park.

“It’s the most spectacular view of the river in the township,” said Harrison. He urged the township to make a statement to the road commission about acquiring the land.

Board members declined, saying they cannot comment on the issue until after the hearing because the board has no authority over the road.

Trustee Chris Roerig said he wants input from the planning commission and parks commission before he would discuss it.

Township representatives will be at the hearing, said Supervisor Bill Wester. The township will discuss the issue at its March meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at the township hall, 3461 Blue Star Highway.

Pine Trail Camp originally filed a request to vacate Dugout Road in March 2010, then suspended the issue two months later among fears the camp would be pulled into the lawsuits between the township and developer Aubrey McClendon, who owns land around the road, also called Singapore Road.

In May, the request to close the road was again made.

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