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Changes Possible for Spring Lake Park's Winter Activities

TSPR'S Emily Boyer
Spring Lake in Macomb features about 365 acres for deer hunting

Spring Lake Park's site supervisor went before the Macomb City Council this week asking for changes to the park's winter offerings. Ryan Hansen of Spring Lake Management took over the property this year from the Macomb Park District. He’s under a three-year contract with the city.      

Hansen would like to extend the deer hunting season. A pilot program ran from November, 2014 through January, 2015. He said it would be a more popular program if the season instead started on October 1 because that would provide more time for bow and arrow hunting before moving on to shotgun season.

“Nobody wants to be pulling a bow back when they are fully clothed in all their winter clothing and sitting in a freezing stand,” Hansen said.

Hansen is recommending that slightly fewer hunting permits be given out this winter to avoid overcrowding. “That was one of the major concerns. At the beginning everyone felt cramped. They felt like they were sitting on top of each other and I think that caused it to become underutilized,” Hansen said.

He also wants to open up the handicap hunting area because he said few people took advantage last season.

“I advertise this here on the state DNR site to try to bring in some handicap hunters to utilize our lake. If they don’t show up or contact me then let's open it up to regular hunters,” Hansen said. “In the advertisement, I stated that my staff will help them get out there and help them get their deer out of there at no cost, so let’s see what happens.”

Hansen would also like to put an end to ice fishing at Spring Lake. He said it’s a liability. Only about a dozen people participated last winter and two of them fell in and had to be rescued.  Hansen said portions of the lake near the campgrounds do not freeze over properly. That’s because the water is being mixed up and drained to be used as part of the city’s water supply.

“You could go out a ways and be fine but then all of a sudden you get close to the docks where you enter or leave and it might be just slush,” Hansen said.

Hansen said his insurance agent is strongly encouraging the city council to prohibit ice fishing on the lake. The city’s attorney made a similar recommendation.

Alderman At Large Don Wynn agreed.

“Because we don’t have a stable enough temperature for the winter to freeze that to a safe thickness , I think it would be best just to prohibit it all together, period,” said Wynn.
Hansen's final request to the council met some resistance. He wants the one-way road near the docks and bait shop to be a two-way.

“The one way forces them to go down a steep hill that’s banked and when you are in a 32 foot Winnebago, it gets really scary and very cramped around the boat ramp. One of our biggest disadvantages is that we don’t have a place to park boats and trailers currently so they have to cram in,” Hansen said.

The road had been changed to a one-way a few years ago when the Macomb Park District was managing the site and had planned to add parking spaces. Hansen said money is not available for that at this time.

Alderman Wynn voiced concerns that the road is too narrow for two-way traffic and questioned whether people would have to drive on the shoulder.

But Third Ward Alderwoman Melvina Gilbert said she recently saw some people driving the wrong way on the road.  “I also talked to some of the campers who were out there and they also said they preferred to go the two-way also because it’s so much easier for them too,” Gilbert said.

The city council was also told Macomb’s Public Works Director Jason Bainter has recommended making repairs to the road this summer with details to come later.

City council members will need to sign off on any changes. They will discuss the proposals further at their next meeting.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.