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Macomb Debates Re-Investing in Spring Lake Park

TSPR Emily Boyer
Spring Lake is a man-made lake and provides Macomb's water supply.

There’s some debate over how the city of the Macomb should spend its share of profits fromSpring Lake Park.

The city pays Ryan Hansen of Spring Lake Management about $80,000 annually to privately manage the park. Hansen says he draws a small salary and the rest goes toward keeping up the grounds, which feature camping, hiking, biking, and numerous water activities on Spring Lake.

Hansen has a revenue sharing agreement with the city that states all profits exceeding $58,000 should be split 50/50 between Hansen and the city.  Hansen and a few city leaders believe that a portion of the city’s share should be reinvested into the park for capital improvement projects which the city has done for the last two years.

But Fifth Ward Alderwoman Gayle Carper said the city is not contractually obligated to do that. “But I think it’s important that that get clarified that that’s not required to go back to Spring Lake,” Carper said. “And that that’s something the city may want to keep discretion on how that money is spent.”

Carper questions whether there are better ways to spend the money given that city revenues are down and leaders are discussing the possibility of budget cuts.

City Administrator Dean Torreson said despite that, he believes Spring Lake Park is a good investment and that the money will come back to the city down the line.  

“My feeling is that the campsites are important because they build the revenue,” Torreson said.  

Torreson said even if the city pays for capital improvement projects at Spring Lake, it is still saving money by having Hansen privately manage the facility versus paying the park district to do it.

Hansen originally asked the Macomb City Council to approve spending $60,000 for capital improvement projects this year. Hansen said the biggest projects would be building a splash pad for children, putting in more picnic tables, adding 20 full-hookup campsites (which feature water), sewer and electrical hook ups.             

But after Carper’s comments, Hansen nixed the splash pad idea, bringing the projected cost for capital improvement projects this year down to about $40,800.

Cost break down:

  • 20 new campsites - $32,800
  • 20 new picnic tables - $6,000 total ($300 per unit)
  • 3-4 new water hydrants - $2,000 

Hansen said the priority is adding more full-hookup campsites in order for the park to grow. Hansen installed the first 8 full-hookup campsites last spring.
Hansen said they’re “wildly popular” and were booked for most of the summer and are almost entirely reserved for the upcoming season.

The city council has not yet weighed in on his revised proposal.

The city’s three year contract with Ryan Hansen and Spring Lake Management expires in December. Hansen is asking for a new five-year public-private partnership agreement. But city leaders want to see financial reports from the before agreeing to a new deal.

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