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Concerned residents seek closure of North Partridge Point Park

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Partridge Point Road residents Al Wirgau, left, and Kathy McVeety walk their dogs on Tuesday. Residents in the area say a local park near where they live is causing issues with litter, speeding, and drug use. Wirgau gave public comment at the Alpena Township Board of Trustees meeting earlier in the day, and asked for the park to be closed.

ALPENA — A small park in Alpena Township, that has fallen victim to vandalism and litter, has drawn the ire of residents that live near it and want it closed.

At the Alpena Township Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, several property owners who live near North Partridge Point Park explained during the public comment session that parties featuring drug use, speeding traffic, noise, and pollution impact the way they live.

The residents also submitted a letter with 22 signatures, asking the township to hold the South Bay Association responsible. South Bay worked with the state to open the park a couple years ago.

South Bay is a group of local business owners and residents whose goal is to clean up, develop, and promote the south side of Alpena.

Russ Rich showed the trustees a jar with used hypodermic needles that he collected on the side of the road near the park.

He said since the park opened, things have gone downhill and if things don’t change, someone is going to get hurt or killed. He said, during parties, bon fires are started and at times get out of control and the residents nearby help extinguish them. Rich said needles, used condoms and other trash covers the roadside.

Despite the efforts by local law enforcement to reel in the troublemakers, things are out of hand and getting worse, Rich said.

“It used to be a nice area, but nowadays, not so much,” Rich said. “Somebody has to do something, because it doesn’t seem like South Bay or the DNR are willing to do anything, so whatever you can do would be appreciated.”

South South Bay President Larry Clark responded to allegations during the final public comment before the meeting adjourned. He admitted concerning behavior from people using the park, especially at night, is occurring. He said South Bay is trying to rectify the situation by installing more trash receptacles, signage to prevent litter, and cameras to catch the people misusing the park.

Clark said a lot of people who use the park for its intended purpose and closing or restricting the use of the park would punish them too. He added that during public input sessions about South Bay’s goals and projects, many people wanted the park built.

Township Letter by James Andersen on Scribd

“There are people who go there to jog, walk, pick fossils, and kayak,” Clark said. “I agree with the residents that we need to get our arms wrapped around this problem. We now have doubled our effort for picking up trash and put more signs up to discourage littering.”

Al Wirgau has lived on Partridge Point Road for 40 years and he is not a fan of the current state of affairs. He said he no longer walks his dog near the park. He added he has also found needles he believes were used to inject drugs.

“I just don’t go that way any more because I can’t take the needles and condoms laying around,” he said. “I can tell you those needles aren’t coming from the residents of Partridge Point Road. People are speeding and someone is going to hit somebody. The park needs to be closed and closed immediately.”

Because the state owns the property, the township doesn’t have the authority to close the park, Township Supervisor Nathan Skibbe said. He said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources controls the land, and sets the rules.

Skibbe said the DNR offered to relinquish the property to the township several times, but, each time, the township declined the offer. If the township were to acquire the land, it would be responsible for its upkeep, which comes with a cost.

Trustee Russ Rhynard, who is the township’s liaison on the South Bay board, said he intends to work with the group, and the state, to find a solution that meets the needs of all and ensures public safety.

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