The Alpena County Parks Department had a couple goals that they wanted to accomplish for 2022. They didn’t fully complete them, but made some significant progress.
One of their biggest goals was setting up an online payment system, where campers would be able to go online and look at vacancies and book stays. On the surface, it seems like a painless and easy setup, but there have been some roadblocks.
“There is a lot of moving pieces at the county level that just makes it more difficult to do, so that’s something that we’ve made some headway on this year, and it’s something we’re looking to improve on next year,” said Jeff Kowalski, Alpena County Commissioner.
They also had plans to upgrade the boat launch area at Long Lake Park, but a couple things prevented them from making the necessary progress. The first thing was the loss of the WaterWays grant director Paul Petersen, who suddenly passed away.
“There wasn’t really another Paul Petersen,” Kowalski said. “So with him passing away suddenly, it really set the DNR, the DNR program back quite a bit, they were really scrambling to figure out what was going on with this paperwork, what was going on with the programs that were granted money.”
The other big roadblock was COVID-19. They had been gathering funds to upgrade the boat launch, but had to delay it because of the pandemic. Kowalski says it wasn’t such a bad thing, however.
“It was kind of a blessing and a curse. The reason it was a blessing is because it gave us more time to pull together more funding sources, so we were able to expand the scope of the project,” he said.
Now that they’ve been able to gather the sufficient funds, they can not only improve the boat launch, but move it to an even better area, which is another one of their big goals for 2023.
“It would also allow for the boat launch to not be situated right there in the camping area,” Kowalski said.
The Parks Department will soon begin work to improve some of their parks for this upcoming year.