Saturday, April 14, 2012

Van's Beach Questions

I was asked to organize a beach cleanup and Vans Beach immediately came to mind. Vans is a well loved beach,perhaps too well loved. The Leland Township office receives many complaints about trash and other issues on that beach, although we send the harbor workers over almost daily in the summer to police the area. On summer evenings you will find dozens of people enjoying the cool air, watching the sunset, walking the beach as darkness sets in and gathering around campfires late into the night. In the morning, even though our visitors are a mostly mannerly group, we often find the remains of the evening before, clothing, trash, even the still hot campfires buried under sand and waiting to burn the feet of this morning's beach goers.

Of course there are yahoos everywhere. We don't know how or why someone managed to burn down a port-o-john one summer. You shouldn't tear down a split rail fence for firewood. Why do people feel compelled to move fire rings to a new spot before they start their own fire? Why, when the lake is so near, do people bury their hot coals instead of extinguishing them?

This well loved beach is the subject of much discussion in town board and parks and rec commission meetings. Maybe we should close the beach after 11 pm? Ban fires? Ban alcohol? Put in more fire rings? Remove the fire rings? Do we need more trash receptacles? Should we buy a beach cleaning machine? Should we hire a village cop? There are philosophical debates about why people do bad things to our beautiful township and many theories on how to stop them. People blame Fudgies, Locals, and Other People's Kids. There is discussion of the role of township government and how many tax dollars, if any, we should be using to protect a non-essential asset like a beautiful beach. Discussions of purely practical issues (how many portajohns do we need?) alternate with the anguish of the ages (why can't people take care of things?)

It's frustrating. Most blessings are. So, we're off to clean the beach. Sometimes it's refreshing to leave the philosophy aside and just get the job done, even if it won't last forever.

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