Big Day for South Haven Recreational Enhancements

The focus was clearly on family fun back on Friday when the community of South Haven hosted the ribbon cutting on one public space and broke ground on yet another. From the new Baer Park to the forthcoming waterfront Splash Pad, it was great day of celebration for the Lake Michigan port city.

Members of the South Haven City Council, city staff, and representatives from Central Lofts Condo Association joined in an official ribbon cutting event Friday celebrating the addition of Baer Park into the city’s public green space.

It was back at their October 7th meeting that the City Council approved an agreement with the Central Lofts II Condominium Association conveying to the city the easement for the creation of a general open space and for recreational purposes.

The area commonly known as “Baer Park” is located on the northeast corner of Superior Street and Center Street. While local residents have historically used that area from time to time for recreational purposes, it is privately owned and part of the Central Lofts II condominium project.

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Over the past few months, city staff has been working with the condominium association for Central Lofts II to develop an agreement to ensure the long-term preservation and public use of the property.

Mayor Scott Smith says, “The addition of Baer Park to the City’s public green spaces is a bonus for the community,” and adds, “Giving residents and visitors another option for recreation aligns with the City’s goals of improving amenities and public spaces in the community.”

That same day, Friday, members of the South Haven City Council, City Staff, the South Haven Community Foundation, the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Abonmarche, Inc. and the Rotary Club of South Haven all met at the future site of the Splash Pad for a formal ground-breaking celebration. That project is expected to be completed in spring 2020.

Mayor Smith says, “This project has been in the planning stages for a couple of years now,” and adds, “I am excited to see the project’s completion in the spring and watching the families enjoy it for years to come.”

The project area is adjacent to the existing concession and restroom area on the waterfront. The intent of the project since its inception has been to create a safe place for children to play instead of Lake Michigan when hazardous conditions exist such as dangerous currents or elevated E. coli levels.

The project elements include new walkways which create a seamless connection between the parking area and the riverfront, two seating areas with picnic tables, new landscape areas and a splash pad modeled after the Friends Good Will tall ship. Additional pedestrian improvements were added after a site plan review by Planning Commission which include adding a crosswalk from behind the water plant to the splash pad, and in the future, installing a crosswalk and new walkway in front of the entire length of the angled parking area which were not part of the original scope and budget.