GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) – Memorial Day won’t be spent strolling the historic south pier in Grand Haven.
It has been shut down for renovations and the longtime steel catwalk is also gone.
The Grand Haven pier and catwalk are synonymous with the West Michigan beach for many visitors. But if the city does not reach its fundraising goal in the next few weeks, the pier will reopen without the longtime steel fixture back on top of it.
Pat McGinnis, the city manager, told 24 Hour News 8 that the pier will definitely reopen around August or September. He explained that major renovations have not been made to the pier since the 1950’s.
Unlike the catwalk upgrades, the work on the pier is federally funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“The city doesn’t have any taxpayer dollars to put towards this,” the city manager explained. “This is 100% private philanthropy. These are people like you and I giving as low as $5 donations up to $100,000 donations.”
The Save the Catwalk efforts began more than a year ago. City leaders set a goal to raise one million dollars.
In the meantime, people are noticing the void.
“I was down on the beach last weekend during the kite fest and I heard people saying ‘I think this is the same town that we were at, but the town that we were at before had a steel thing on top of that pier and there’s nothing out there,’ ” McGinnis joked.
The steel catwalk is currently in storage until the city reaches its funding goal.
McGinnis said that they have raised just over $600,000 and hope to hit the million dollar mark by mid-July. That is the deadline for city officials to let their local contractor know if they will move forward or not.
If there is not enough money, the catwalk will not return to its home.
The project will be pushed back until next spring, if the remaining funds are raised.
“It is a little bit unsettling to not let them [visitors] on the pier. We’ve got a great, big fence up and No Trespassing [sign] but it is dangerous out there,” McGinnis said.
He added that there are a number of returning summer visitors that can still help.
“When they left last year, the catwalk was still up. So it’s kind of like they went to bed,” McGinnis explained. “They went away and went to sleep on us, and now they’re waking up this morning – this Memorial Day [and] they’re going to come here to Grand Haven and they’re going to see that it’s gone and they’re going to wonder how can I help.”
McGinnis told 24 Hour News 8 that they plan to open the lighthouses for public tours for the first time ever after the pier is reopened and the catwalk is back.
That will likely happen next year.