Pottawattomie Park, on the banks of the Pottawattomie Bayou, was struggling with a rapidly eroding shoreline, flooding issues, and an existing dock and boardwalk in need of replacement. The park is located at a busy site and accommodates different types of use: kayak and paddle board launching, swimming, fishing, hiking, volleyball, and a playground. Due to the soil types, lack of shoreline plants, and groundwater seepage, the site was rapidly eroding.
Grand Haven Charter Township wanted to utilize natural shoreline methods to address the erosion and provide better-defined user access to the water at the park while also restoring some wetlands. Coastal Management grant funding was available for the design and planning of the improvements, but solutions to stop the erosion could not impact site use or negatively impact the environment.
The township hired Prein&Newhof to design several improvements and to assist with the grant application process. Prein&Newhof wrote the application for the initial study phase and, eventually, the design and construction phases as well. Prein&Newhof also assisted with community input gathering and provided the initial study of the site with recommendations for improvements that would enhance the environment and user experience.
The proposed solution involved limiting activity access to certain areas and using native plantings to restore exposed shoreline. By limiting water access to the sandy beach area and kayak launch, unprotected areas would become easier to maintain, and natural areas would reestablish without human interference.
The project included the removal of all existing boardwalks, floating docks, and the sidewalk bordering the shoreline. The relocated pathway now allows a natural wetland area to flourish. The new concrete path avoids flooded areas and connects the parking lot and volleyball court to the floating dock and kayak launch. Lawn areas near the water were removed and replaced with native plantings, and a sandy beach area bordered by large stones defines a swimmer and paddleboard access area.
In total, approximately 100 feet of shoreline was stabilized using native plantings and some natural stone. A universally accessible kayak launch was added to the refurbished floating dock at a new location away from the swimming area. The dock also provides some protection from waves and wakes to the site. These were relatively low-cost methods to address the erosion issues while providing an enhanced experience and improving the beauty of the setting.